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 ·
EatThatPhonebook
7/10

"Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy" is one of the most important albums for Chick Corea and Return To Forever's career.

Chick Corea is one of the most well known figures in Jazz Fusion, as well as one Jazz greatest keyboardists. After the well acclaimed debut album “Return To Forever”, which gave the name to the band, and the almost as seminal “Light As a Feather”, “Hymn To the Seventh Galaxy” comes to some as a somewhat disappointing release. It isn’t the usual third album that suddenly becomes the magnum opus of the band, but it definitely gives some new elements to Return To Forever’s music that will persist during their whole career ahead of them.

On “Hymn to The Seventh Galaxy”, Return to Forever go towards a direction more faithful and coherent to the term Jazz Fusion, abandoning all vocal tracks. However, like many bands of that day, they throw in their music, as they did before, various influences, from Funk, to Rock, to Latin music, to Psychedelic and Space Rock. The rhythms are always strong and constantly busy, the guitars and bass somewhat abrasive and fuzzy, and Corea’s swelling electric piano gives to the music an undeniable touch of uniqueness, dragging all the other instruments to follow him. The best melodies as a matter of fact are created out of the Corea’s fingers, more than anybody else’s.

“Hymn To The Seventh Galaxy”’s heavy tone is always a delight to listen to, the band’s various pathways they take in the course of a song is always fascinating. This album has some very high points, some however can’t help to fall behind the shadow of the first few, marvelous tracks. For being more precise, the first side of the LP is close to being masterful, while the second side is more disappointing and not exactly up to the task of maintaining such high levels.

After the self title intro to the album, the two masterpieces of the LP come in, Stanley Clarke’s song “After The Cosmic Rain” and the even more intriguing “Captain Senor Mouse”, possibly the best song of the album. Both of these songs are long but absolutely worth the listen. The second side, as mentioned, does not contain such high quality tracks, however, the overall resultant still maintains a solid amount of credibility, especially thanks to tracks like the two parts of “Space Circus” and even the final track “The Game Maker”, both of them overall pretty interesting and accessible.

“Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy” maybe will not go down in history as a quintessential Fusion album, but it’s one of those LPs that you can’t miss, especially if you’re a Jazz fan. On this album there is so much to learn from, and people seem to forget how important this album really is for Return To Forever and Chick Corea’s career that will follow.
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