Jan Hammer – The First Seven Days

The First Seven Days is one of the great early works of popular electronic music.

Released nearly 30 years ago, the music is a set of seven rock-fusion tone poems inspired by the idea of the seven days of creation.  It was a head-trip when it was released, and the remastered CD re-release makes it sound better than ever.

Jan Hammer is a talented keyboardist and composer. He’s best known for his soundtrack work for Miami Vice and his jazz-fusion playing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His talent with the Minimoog is legendary, ranking him up with other MoogerFoogers of the seventies, Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.

This gem of an album, while little known, is probably his best work. The First Seven Days is a set of tone poems, loosely inspired by the story of creation. Part progressive rock, part jazz-fusion, and part genius, The First Seven Days is great music, and Jan Hammer’s keyboard work is some of his best.

“Darkness/Earth in Search of a Sun” starts off the album, and it’s one of the best cuts. It begins with what sounds like Mellotron string pad sounds. Eerie Moog howls rise out of nothing. From this, the music transforms into a searing rock-fusion number, with Hammer using his unique style of synth pitch-bending, tormenting his synth until it releases an electric-guitar like sound.

Other great tracks are “The Animals”, which combines funky percussion and exotic Moog work. “The Seventh Day” wraps thing up by returning to some of the ideas of the first track. Hammer ends on a high note with more of his innovative synthesizer soloing.

Though the album is almost three decades old, both the music and playing hold up well. The Mellotron sounds date the music, but it’s used so effectively that Hammer transcends the limitations of the instrument. You may want to look for a used Mellotron after listening to this. The music was innovative for its time, and the remastering brings out the best in the music.

The highlight, though, has to be Hammer’s Minimoog playing within the context of the trippy music. The music is evocative, almost psychedelic, and his synthesizer solos explode out of it. The First Seven Days has some of the best lead synth work that you’ll hear.

Bring on the Hammer!

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