New degrees of spaciousness and airiness – equally important to the musique concrete arrangements – give the impression Davis and Co.'s creations float in space. Instruments are portrayed in three-dimensional manners, rhythmic loops retain tonal purity, and horn solos skitter across an extra-wide soundstage that takes listeners into Columbia's Studio E. our digital version captures Teo Macero's innovative production – and the trumpeter's cutting-edge aural collages – in definitive fashion.
Heavily inspired by Sly and the Family Stone, On the Corner portrays street vibes and remains Davis' blackest-sounding record. The conscious attempt to connect with youthful audiences tapped into rock and funk is evident not only on the colorful cartoon cover art depicting hot-pants and zoot-suit revelers, but in the music's emphasis of recurring drum and bass grooves. Distinct from Davis' earlier fusion experiments, the record's long-misunderstood set dials back improvisation in favor of beats, loops, and atmospherics that generate trance-like effects. While Davis utilizes his band for core duties – Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock prominently figure – he also relies on an all-star cast of sidemen for concentrated soloing and additional support.
With rhythm providing the basic foundation, other notes fall into place, with their positioning steered by Macero and Davis' editing-room techniques. Looking to the manipulation-based work of Karlheinze Stockhausen and teaming with Stockhausen disciple Paul Buckmaster, Davis re-imagines what grooves constituted and could accomplish throughout On the Corner. The shapes of the songs become completely transformed as they progress. Faint melodies, spacey chords, chunky riffs, wah-wah fills, and repeated motifs bounce in and out of a sonic funhouse that wouldn't be out of place at a Harlem block party. Exotic, intrepid, and filled with Davis' "jungle sound," On the Corner remains daringly hip more than four decades later.