Get Up With It by Miles Davis – selected by Emil Nikolaisen (Serena-Maneesh)

Nathaniel probably got a little worried, observing some manic guy selling off large “archives” of borderline new age Innovative Communication titles, he probably figured a certain little rat might have some thoughts to share for a dark corner of the Cathedral blog. So… despite the silly fact that I’ve spent my hours in front of studio speakers, lost in inside microcosmoses of various importance, I figured I’d talk about about a beautiful moment from the real wild outside world. I recently worked on an album and someone said it recalled the feeling of driving real fast, dangerously fast. My approach to the record was under the influence of a certain Miles Davis album that I’ve been a fan of since the early days of branching out to the insides of all things pure rock’n’roll.

After having toured the first SM album I took a break and joined my friend who grew up in the mountains of India on a journey to the secret wonders of Tamil Nadu. Taken through the most mysterious paths, it all started out so beautiful, lush and super legato, then those deep colours in the epic jungle at the promising foot of the Blue Mountains. Alternating and intensifying vegetation of colour and smell, altering states of consciousness as altitude increased. Always with the threatening danger of jangly roads eroding under your feet, holes and huge wounds in the road around any corner, wild tusks roaming around, aggressive and loving the sports of wrecking cars or any other intruder. And boy, my friend could drive and he drove fast. Or at least it felt like he did, cruising on crumbling remains of imperialist patches of stuff once called a road. Especially as we dove into the terrifying gorges of Udhagamandalam.

This pretty much sums up the dubious face of Get Up With It, a collection of studio recordings by a colourful assembly of players surrounding Miles during the early ’70s. An amazing LP consisting of takes and versions also appearing in different live versions on other releases from this rare era. Playful in its weightless state, it also seems like it is some kind of an important crossroads for everyone involved. Neither jazz, nor prog as in “prog”, nor Can, as Can in between continents. In my head maybe a little like the unfiltered uproar of a Bob Dylan going electric… serving a delicious soup of controversy and clever yet stupid humour all so well cooked up via conversations of wonderful colours and character, compassion and commitment.

It doesn’t even sound so much about Miles’ ego, although his sometimes elbowed Farfisa shows that his leader role is free and wide and more than just endless wah’ed trumpet and all self-indulgence pushed to the forefront. This is first and foremost an incredible band “effort” all down the line. Repetition and cycles developing in beautiful articulate ways. Wood, skin, electric barbed wire, lots of headroom, harmonic tapestry and polyrhythmic ecstasy. It’s 3D musical 5G. It’s up, down, speed and heroin. It’s bottomless grief and volcanic joy. Radical studio tricks, interruptions and manually switched hard-panning. It’s all in here. Anyway, someone must have given their Columbia A&R a serious pill of convincing voodoo qualities.

So, imagine being in a car surfing a landslide approaching Lake Avalanche (!), blasting ‘Rated X’. Nerve-wracked little Norwegian dudes in an innocent car being wrestled to its physical and mental limits. Case study. Hilarious, moving, important, vital. LIVING MUSIC. I could say I’ve tested this album in almost any situation or circumstance available. I even stole a little title reference for the second SM record that we did a little later.

Anyway. Happy 17th of May from Oslo [this piece was written on Norwegian Constitution Day]! In the true colours of Miles’ rage on racial oppression: RED WHITE AND BLU.

Photograph by Ghostkamera aka Benjamin Sand (SM tour manager 2005-2007)