Charlie Hunter is a prolific musician and a lot of his records are good, but he’s best when he embraces his hendrixian roots. Mistico is the best example of that: it’s square and electric, with a biting guitar that it sometimes missing in some of his more laid back productions. The interesting thing on CD that makes the experience very different than seeing Charlie live is that you don’t hear that he’s playing both the bass and the guitar at the same time. And much as it’s amazing to see that live, it allows you to concentrate on the music.
Hunter’s musicians on this one are the no nonsense Simon Lott on drums, as in-your-face as he can be groovy (but not so much here, that’s not the point) and the inventive and experimental Erik Deutsch on piano and electric keyboards of all kinds. Together, they form a tight, hard hitting unit that sounds raw and mean. Lady opens the record with a driven square beat and a kind of repetitive hook that drives it forward. Both Hunter and Deutsch take overdiven solos: that’s the mood!
The album stays on this kind of vibe all the way through, which doesn’t mean it’s all in your face rockers. The mellower Estranged is aptly titled as the electric sounds give it a tilted vibe that counterbalances the pretty melody very nicely. There’s a great coherence of sound throughout the record and a nice mix of heavy rockers and more intimate, jazzier tunes.
This is a good record if you like jazz rock of any kind, but also a good entry into jazz if you’re coming from rock or electric blues. And once you’re hooked, you can go see Charlie live and pick up your jaw on the floor at the end of the show.