Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969–1974

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Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969–1974
Panthalassa The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974.jpg
Remix album by Miles Davis
Released February 16, 1998
Genre Jazz fusion, ambient[1]
Length 59:38
Label Sony
Miles Davis chronology
Live Around the World
(1996)Live Around the World1996
Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969–1974
Love Songs
(1999)Love Songs1999

Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969–1974 is a remix album by Miles Davis, released on February 16, 1998, by Sony Records. It contains compositions from prior albums, including In a Silent Way, On the Corner and Get Up With It, remixed by Bill Laswell; it is subtitled "Reconstruction and Mix Translation by Bill Laswell".[2] The album was composed as a dark, continuous tone poem divided by four sections of Davis' jazz fusion recordings. Panthalassa received generally positive reviews from music critics and sold well,[3] charting at number four on the Billboard Top Jazz Albums.[4]

Composition and recordings[edit]

An ambient, jazz fusion album,[1] Panthalassa is divided into four sections and composed as dark and continuous chronological tone poem of remixed songs recorded by Davis during his "electric" period.[5] Laswell was offered access to the original multi-track tapes and occasionally deleted the rhythm sections, brought up obscured instruments, added Indian and electronic droning sounds, constructed moody transitions, and premiered previously unreleased passages from Davis' sessions.[5] The album's first track was constructed as a reordered and truncated version of Davis' 1969 jazz fusion album In a Silent Way.[2] It is followed by 16 minutes of remixed music from the On the Corner sessions and approximately half-an-hour of music from Get Up with It.[5]

The On the Corner section of Panthalassa showcased two new songs—the elaborate rock and funk of "What If" and the ominous march-like "Agharta Prelude Dub".[5] According to Bob Belden, "What If" was recorded on June 2, 1972, by Davis with a personnel including saxophonist Carlos Garnett, guitarists John McLaughlin and David Creamer, keyboardists Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Harold Williams, sitar player Collin Walcott, bassist Michael Henderson, and percussionists Billy Hart (cowbell), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Don Alias (conga), and Badal Roy (table). Paul Tingen surmised that Creamer, Garnett, and Henderson had their parts overdubbed into the track after it had been recorded. "Agharta Prelude Dub" was titled by Laswell after Davis' 1975 live album Agharta, on which its melody appeared. Davis scholar Jan Lohmann believed the track had been recorded on November 29, 1972, most likely by Davis, Garnett, Henderson, Roy, drummer Al Foster, percussionist James Mtume, keyboardist Cedric Lawson, and electric sitar player Khalil Balakrishna.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[5]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly B+[8]
The Village Voice A[9]

Panthalassa received positive reviews from critics.[10] The Wire called it an "ambient fusion power force which breathed new life into the originals without detracting from Davis's artistic intentions", crediting Laswell for "teasing out the music's spiritual dimension".[1] Steve Futterman from Entertainment Weekly believed the record's "most radical quality is the reverence that Laswell pays to his sources". Whether the remixes are "rhythmically bustling or meditative", Futterman wrote, they "seethe with Davis' still-startling visions".[8] Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club said the reordered songs did not "sound out of context" and commended Laswell for giving more exposure to these unappreciated "masterpieces".[2] AllMusic's Richard S. Ginell wrote that "despite the altered sonic landscape, Laswell accurately evokes in turns the lonely, exquisitely gleaming, nightmarish, despairing moods that Davis was exploring prior to his 1975 retirement".[5] Robert Christgau declared he would play the album as often as the electric-period Davis records In a Silent Way and Jack Johnson (1971).[9] He wrote in The Village Voice that listeners unfamiliar with Davis' fusion albums will find it to be "a passport to provisional utopia" in Panthalassa:

"Metastructures condensed, themes highlighted, beats punched up by a master tinkerer who's loved them forever, the transcendent buzz of electric Miles nevertheless remains undulant, unpredictable, perverse—and so relaxed about getting where it's not actually going that newcomers will find it hard to imagine how much more unhurriedly it might arrive."[9]

In a year-end list for the Pazz & Jop critics poll, Christgau named Panthalassa the sixth best record of 1998.[11] When first hearing "Shhh/Peaceful" on Panthalassa, Geoff Dyer said he realized the impact such compositions had on ambient and chill-out music.[12]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Music Length
1. "In a Silent Way;[13] Shhh/Peaceful;[13] It's About That Time[13]" Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul 15:20
2. "Black Satin;[14] What If; Agharta Prelude Dub" Davis 16:06
3. "Rated X;[15] Billy Preston[15]" Davis 14:34
4. "He Loved Him Madly[16]" Davis 13:38


Original recordings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Soundcheck". The Wire. London. 210: 59. 2001. 
  2. ^ a b c Klein, Joshua (March 29, 2002). "Bill Laswell: Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974, Reconstruction & Mix Translation By Bill Laswell". The A.V. Club. Chicago. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  3. ^ Kenney, Joe (March 26, 2008). "Davis (Mixed by Bill Laswell) - Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974". Head Heritage. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 - Miles Davis : Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ginell, Richard S. "Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 - Miles Davis | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Tingen, Paul (2001). Miles Beyond : The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967–1991 (1st ed.). Billboard Books. pp. 141, 324. ISBN 0-8230-8346-2. 
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2006). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). p. 102. ISBN 0195313739. 
  8. ^ a b Futterman, Steve (May 8, 1998). "Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974 Review". Entertainment Weekly. New York (431). Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (June 2, 1998). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  10. ^ Bambarger, Bradley (1998). "Miles Revisited by Producer Bill Laswell". Billboard (March 28): 66. Retrieved May 23, 2016. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 2, 1999). "Pazz & Jop 1998: Dean's List". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  12. ^ Dyer, Geoff (2011). "Editions of Contemporary Me". Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 1555970265. 
  13. ^ a b c From the 1969 album In a Silent Way
  14. ^ From the 1972 album On the Corner
  15. ^ a b Recorded in 1972, first released on the 1974 album Get Up with It
  16. ^ From the 1974 album Get Up with It

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]