John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension: Black Light

Third album with band from ex-Miles Davis sideman.

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In the accompanying notes to this album, veteran fusion guitarist John McLaughlin talks of the importance of “atmospheres” in his music, something he learned growing up listening to composers like Stravinsky and Berg.

He also speaks of the rapport, the “deep complicity” he has developed with fellow 4th Dimension players: drummer/vocalist Ranjit Barot, keyboardist/ drummer Gary Husband and bassist Étienne M’Bappé.

Certainly, their interplay is at times so intricate as to be practically porous, while the opening passages of Here Comes The Jiis and Being You Being Me are rich, colourised and immersive listening experiences.

Unfortunately and invariably, however, McLaughlin then strikes up with his fevered, here-come-the-70s jazz-fusion soloing, which militates against both the collective and atmospheric spirit he apparently espouses, noodling away, demanding deference to the Daddy. A great deal more restraint from him, the way his old boss Miles used to show, would have made for a much better album.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.