If the record's only accomplishment is its introduction of guitarist John McLaughlin to the world, it alone would be enough. Yet In a Silent Way
continues to bedazzle, puzzle, and inspire for myriad reasons – not the least of which is the seemingly telepathic communicative methods employed by the group's members. The lineup is great on paper, but, if it's even possible, the octet sounds even better in practice, with the instruments and tonalities conjoining in avant-garde communion like hyper-sensitive tentacles exploring the stippled landscapes of an undiscovered planet.
Diverting from expectation, tubular grooves twist, turn, and spin, sometimes piling atop of each other, always shying away from structure and melody. Ellipsoidal solos provide hesitant guidance, ranging from Chick Corea's Fender Rhodes phrases to Davis' decorative spirals. And as color is the primary unit of currency on Davis' Sketches of Spain, laidback episodes, geometric spaces, and quiet sensuality reign here, with the set's maverick reputation attained via musings on solitude rather than explosions of noise.
Controversial for the period, the heavily edited production of In a Silent Way blew open the once-locked doors on what producer's could attempt – and how artists could assist them. Knitted together as one would construct a cross-hatched quilt, songs contain grafts of repeat passages that provide unifying structure and experimental continuity. What a statement.
- In a Silent Way/It's About That Time