Composer/multi-instrumentalist BB Davis' London-based Red Orchidstra has been described as sounding like "Oscar Wilde on acid." Mysteries Of The Revolution, the keyboards-led power trio made up of the rhythmic core of the band, might similarly be described as "Arthur Rimbaud on a headful of the finest, hand pressed, Nepalese ganja." Not literally, for words play only cameo roles here, but in the passionate intensity of the music and its determination, in Rimbaud's words, to "disorder the senses."
Mysteries Of The Revolution will appeal to listeners who enjoyed having their brains fried by Mushroom's Joint Happening (Hyena Records, 2007), featuring the trumpeter Eddie Gale, or keyboard player Marco Benevento's Invisible Baby (Hyena Records, 2008), and who want the party to continue.
At the risk of over emphasising the Rimbaud resonances, but with the poet still in mind, the album's opening "Welcome," an ecstatic, chorale-led tumult, evokes in its crescendos composer Benjamin Britten's magical setting of Rimbaud's poetry, "Les Illuminations." Vocals play a part on two more tracksYussuf Ali guests on the Moroccan-inspired "Secret Fire" and Davis' own virtuosic beatvox on the vocalized-flute feature "Big Buddah," a shamanistic celebration of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. But elsewhere the arrangements are dominated by Davis' co-composer and multi-keyboardist, Dan Biro, on cranked-up, multi-layered Hammond, acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes and supporting cast of other keyboards.
MOTR cite the early-to-mid 1970s electric fusion of trumpeter Miles Davis, keyboard players Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul, and drummer Tony Williams as the core inspiration for Mysteries Of The Revolution, but the band achieve degrees of high-volume, full-on intensity here which those first-generation stylists attained only rarely. Only the dark, near-inchoate slabs of sound which Davis offered mid-decade come to mind.
The penultimate "Have You Seen Enough?" matches mid-1970s Davis at his most brooding and apocalyptic, and ends with an organ and percussion eruption which sounds, unmistakably, like a nuclear explosion heralding the end of the world. It's followed by "Evolution," a pretty, pastoral postscript replete with bird song and forest noises. It's a rare enigmatic moment closing an hour of otherwise mostly ferocious and intoxicating music.
Personnel: BB Davis: drums, flute, percussion, beatvox, vocals; Dan Biro: keyboards, electronica, vibraphonics; Mark Smith: electric bass; Yusuf "Squeeze Gut" Ali: vocals (7); Choir (1).