Mistico by fusion guitarist, Charlie Hunter, is an interesting blend of jazz and progressive rock guitars instrumentals. Hunter once recorded Marley’s Natty Dread album in its entirety to very interesting effect. Therefore, experimentation is no stranger to Charlie Hunter and his proclivities toward the avant-garde stream. Mistico is every bit the mix of styles in instrumental form, a tasty slice of pie for Hunter fans and freshness for those who can’t get enough of offbeat music.
In Mistico’s 10 tracks, jazz becomes rock jams becomes progressive, often within minutes, even sudden seconds, of each other. What may be a drum and guitar jam suddenly slips into clear jazz piano and drums, and vice versa, thereby making classification impossible. But this is the effect that Charlie Hunter sought in Mistico, and is what sets it apart from much of what is coming from labels these days. It’s always nice to have something a little bizarre to re-capture your imagination and to reinvigorate your waning interests in today’s musical offerings. Hunter also uses custom-crafted guitars with extra strings to stretch the instrument’s capabilities. On Mistico, he uses a 7-string guitar.
Mistico can be a little confusing. On “Special Shirt,” it begins a little funky before suddenly slipping into a traditional jazz piano (keeping the funk going). But then here comes those rock guitars and the song is suddenly something else, all the while running that funk undercurrent, before it comes to the funk front again. It sounds strange but it actually does work. The title track begins in a clear progressive Rock vein, eventually bringing in small-bite jazz influences until you have what can only be termed a hybrid of the two.
This album isn’t for the masses nor does it intend to be. Folks who have enjoyed ‘70s progressive rock are the most likely audience for Mistico. But if you’re game for experimentation, Mistico does it well enough. It’s heartening to hear genre mixes and influences again just as the music landscape of the ‘70s thrived on. For all that we know, music is in the very early stages of a renaissance. With jazz/rock bands like Les Claypool (Primus) also doing this type of stuff, we may see this proliferate in pleasant ways. Charlie Hunter’s has been affiliated with Claypool in the past by way of an album release on Claypool’s label, Prawn Song.