London-based jazz-rock band Mysteries of the Revolution (MOTR) is the sonic equivalent of the James Webb Space Telescope. There might be only two core musicianskeyboardist / programmer Daniel Biro and drummer / flautist BB Davisbut the sound pictures they create are at times as epic as the Webb images of distant galaxies.
MOTR debuted in 2007 with the bacchanalian Mysteries Of The Revolution (Blue Serene Focus), whose chorale-led opening track touched on the trippy gigantism of twentieth-century classical composer Benjamin Britten's song cycle "Les Illuminations," grafting it on to the genie created by Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970).
Seven years later, MOTR released an EP, You Turn Me On (Blue Serene Focus, 2014), but Longing For The Dawn is only MOTR's second full-length album. The long gaps between releases is partly explained by the demands of Biro and Davis' bread and butter careers as soundtrack composers and session musicians, for MOTR is a side project, albeit one which is a labour of love. The pauses are also a consequence of the passing in 2009 of the group's original third member, bassist Mark Smith, which was a heavy musical and personal blow. The title track on the new album is dedicated to Smith, whose place is taken by guest bassist Andy Alexander. Other guests are guitarists Vincenzo Lamagna and Russ Parker and alto flautist Don Stuart.
However, in the main, Longing For The Dawn is the immaculately produced, overdub-stacked work of Biro on Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ and analogue synths, and Davis on drums, percussion, flute, beatvox and voice. Once again, the territory is that mapped out in the early 1970s by electric Miles Davis alumni Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and John McLaughlin, with an admixture of Frank Zappa and, in Davis' vocalized flute, a splash of Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
"Our aim," says Biro, "was to evoke those heroic days of 1970s jazz-rock with its burning electric energy and guru-led grandeur." Mission accomplished.
You Turn Me On; One Whisper; Heavy On Karma; Longing For The Dawn; Babylon Everything; Joe; Starbird Chasing The Infinite; The Distance Between Us; Pharoah’s Scribbled Phantasms.
In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.