Keyboardist Dan Biro is the dominant force in MotR’s music, packing it with layer upon layer of synthetic voicings: piano, Moog, at least two kinds of electric piano and four kinds of organ, white-noise, and guitar so obviously synthesized that he shouldn’t have bothered to emulate an organic instrument at all. Taken together they are an immediate red flag, ambition at its most overweening. Indeed, the orchestration is impressive in its vast scope, but it’s simply too thick: the voicings get so thoroughly lost in each other that it’s impossible to tell what any one of them is trying to accomplish.
Drummer BB Davis, who occasionally doubles on flute, does penetrate the muck. He’s got a stomping rhythm that’s not very creative, but is certainly penetrating. The real casualty of this monster is bassist Mark Smith, who occasionally seems to be doing terrific funk-inspired work when he’s audible.
Yet the cumulative effect of Biro’s layers might forgive the loss of their individual sounds if only the compositions they adorned were as ambitious as the orchestrations. As it stands, Mysteries comprises eleven half-constructed riffs. Some are interesting at first listen, but repeated ad nauseam until they’re simply obnoxious ("Storius Sensorius"), others are very nearly new-age techno in their mindlessness "Nico." Indeed, when Davis does brandish his flute, his ideas often sound so mechanical and insubstantial that they do sound like loops from a techno production (as on "Big Buddah").
"The Crunch," Mysteries’ second track, tells the whole story of the album succinctly (if ten minutes-plus can be called succinct). It opens with a stock "dark" organ vamp, reminiscent of early Pink Floyd, then dives wantonly into a riff stolen from Frank Zappa’s "King Kong," but without Zappa’s careful architecture. It’s simply a broken-up descending figure, played three times, each time resolving into a different chord. After some aimless noodling, the riff recapitulates and the track shifts gears into a slow, bass-heavy psychedelic groove. The organ continues to dominate, running through the playbook of psychedelia’s clichés: long drones, minor-key "surprises," bluesy phrases. Smith then appears with a promising, exploratory bass solo that’s quickly devoured by another round of Biro’s self-satisfied predictability. When the "King Kong" riff returns, it melds into the mud of other keyboard workouts, determined not to be comprehensible.
Alas. Mysteries of the Revolution do seem to have potential in their music and their ideas, if only they can gain a sense of taste and discipline. Their self-titled debut shows that the jazz/prog-rock fusion devotees don’t even have a problem separating the wheat from the chaff, they’re just not sure which is which.