Two years prior to releasing a jointly led 2003 effort on Khaeon, guitarist Dave Stryker and reedist Steve Slagle were in the studio for Shades Beyond, a Stryker-led session released by Steeplechase. Along with organ and Fender Rhodes from David Berkman, Terry Burns' electric bass and the wigged-out drum frenzies of Lenny White, all you need do is add a sense of urgency to this music and you'd have something akin to a 1968 Miles Davis session. Trivia kings will recall that White's an old timer who in fact sat on the throne for Miles during the recording of the tune "Bitches Brew," but despite his cred and mastery of the proto-fusion style, the rest of the band can't bring itself to bring it, and this proves an unmoving set of eight originals by Stryker, Slagle and Berkman that chase after the Dark Prince's vision.
Stryker and Slagle aren't at a loss for chops; it's just that during most themes and solos they actually sound like they're practicing intervals. It's tough to generate mystique when you're all up in your Mel Bay, and tougher to evoke darkness when your tone could easily call home to a GRP release. Miles and his late '60s bands created a mystery; Stryker and Co. just sound like they're trying to solve one.