Mysterium Tremendum, the latest release from the Mickey Hart Band, has the former Grateful Dead drummer digging yet deeper into his ever-expanding knowledge and love of sound for another fine record. Hart’s merry band of musicians plays along to sound waves transformed from electromagnetic radiation given off by the sun, planets, stars and galaxies. While most tracks, including the opening “Heartbeat of the Sun,” “Through Endless Skies” and “Supersonic Vision,” have a prominent cosmic feel to them, Mysterium Tremendum is a well rounded record, both musically and vocally. The famed Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter wrote the words on more than half of the tracks, adding yet another level to the depths of quality on this album.
“Who Stole the Show” shines lyrically in terms of world music, almost tribal-style vocals on top of Dave Schools funk bass-line and bending guitar riffs. Hart unleashes an arsenal of percussion throughout the record, courtesy of himself, drummer Ian “Inx” Herman and Sikiru Adepoju. Vocalist Crystal Monee Hall bleeds romantic soul on “This One Hour” and “Starlight Starbright,” while Tim Hockenberry’s dark, whispery vocal style (a bit reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s sound) takes command of the mic on “Slow Joe Rain” and “Cut the Deck,” the latter of which is truly a Hunter tune if there ever was one.
As if the core of this band wasn’t stout in and of themselves, special guests include Steve Kimock, Reed Mathis, Zakir Hussain, Babatunde Olatunji and Giovanni Hidalgo, among others. Mysterium Tremendum has Hart at the helm of an orchestration of 20 masterful musicians literally playing off of the mystical rhythms of the universe. His latest release is top-shelf, and can easily stand tall alongside any of his other material to date. Hart is a seasoned pro, and has outdone himself once again.