Thursday, April 02, 2009
Miles Davis - Pangaea
In 1975, Miles Davis and his voodoo-fueled funk-metal band recorded two massive live albums from Japan. The double-lp Agartha is taken from the afternoon concert, while the double-lp Pangaea is taken from the evening show. These would become Miles' final recordings of the '1970s; crumbling health, illness, and the stress of fighting his decade-long electric "fusion" war forced him to finally retreat from public view. Miles Davis would not return to music until 1981, older and changed, and searching for new sounds yet again.
Agharta was released in the US in 1976, but Pangaea only appeared in Japan in 1977. This was fierce, heavy, dense music far ahead of its time. The sound of Miles' final electric band more closely resembles a Millenial funk-metal hybrid, with trip-hop and ambient leanings. Think about that for a moment. It's the year 2009, and we still haven't caught up to what the Miles Davis band was doing. But at least my generation, and the younger kids who grew up on Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Public Enemy and the Chili Peppers can understand the groove. The rock and jazz scene of the early '70s? Forget it. Not a chance.
Anyway, here are some photos of the rare vinyl lp version of Pangaea, which was released only in 1977 in Japan. It completes the quartet of Miles Davis funk-metal albums (and I'm really only using that term loosely, since the music roams across so many landscapes), that darkest, heaviest, and most dense period of Miles career. Thankfully, these albums are all available on CD, so everyone can discover the music for themselves. And it's bloody fantastic music, soulful, expressive, sorrowful, and very, very funky.
Miles Davis' heavy "voodoo hip-hop ambient jazz funk metal" period (whatever we call it...never before has the term "fusion" been so apt), which completes the second half of his electric era - Come Up Get It, Dark Magus, Agharta, Pangaea - remains his least-understood, largely due to the endless battles over the direction of his music from acoustic bop jazz into electric fusion. But this music was simply too far ahead of its time. While kids were busy absorbing Houses of the Holy and Exile on Main Street, Miles and his gang suddenly crash down your door with Public Enemy and Soulfly in tow. Good lord, the '70s was sloping its way into disco.
Today, I think the situation is much different. We're still catching up to the music that Miles discovered three decades ago, but we're a lot closer. And let's face it, kids. Our music is angry, really angry. Miles Davis angry.
In any case, the smartest thing any of us could do is to drop the four Miles Davis voodoo-funk albums into the hands of every musician and dj we find. Then just wait for the new bands to emerge from the streets. I think it's high time the Brittney clones on American Idol were swept away, don't you? Aren't we ready for the next revolution?