RETURN TO FOREVER — Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (review)

RETURN TO FOREVER — Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy album cover Album · 1973 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Abraxas
By 1973, Return to Forever finally hired a guitarist and got rid of the saxophone and vocals, so this is what Chick calls Return to Forever's first "electric" album. After two pleasant latin jazz albums, Chick & Co decided to experiment with the surgence of this new thing called "fusion" that bands like Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra were already doing (and what British jazzers, Nucleus and Soft Machine, were doing even a bit earlier).

The band tried their best to do their own kind of jazz rock, with all the potential that the line-up had to offer. The result was brilliant in terms of musicianship, the four members were technically capable of making intense jazz rock, however that's also a flaw, sometimes the band (as they would later do in Romantic Warrior) focuses too much in their instruments rather in the composition. Also have in mind, that it's not Al Di Meola who is on guitar, it's Bill Connors, a highly capable jazz guitarist, but unfortunately the production of the album didn't help him much, leaving a bit to desire from him. My last complaint would be that Chick Corea is missing his set of synths on his keyboard deck, making much of the record sound pretty samey at first listens, due to the monotonic sound of organ and electric piano solely (although the playing of the Rhodes here is astonishing).

It's a pitty though, I've seen live shows from the tour of this album (through YouTube) and the music sounds better because Chick had already added the synths to the band's music, plus the muddy production is not present. That shows me that I actually see no major flaws in these technical but entertaining compositions, if not in the sound of the overall record, its production is not really the best.

Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy is definitely a big step over Light at as Feather, and while sounding different and not as mature as the Meola records, it is up there with those in terms of musical ability.

A classic jazz rock album that has the unfortunate flaw of having a muddy production and monotonic sound (due to the former), and probably sometimes the focus on the technical playing. The upcoming 2011 tour of the band, which will have the entire Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy as the set-list (if I'm not mistaken), is something that nobody should miss.
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