This 1998 album continues the polyrhythmic approach of Planet Drum and features many of the same players, including Zakir Hussain, Babatunde Olatunji, Airto Moreira and Giovanni Hidalgo.
For Mickey Hart's Mystery Box, Mickey Hart set out to do one thing: to give voice to the drum. Hart crafted songs from the rhythmic foundation up, and that meant not just the beat, but the melody. To find the roots of these melodies, Mickey laid down the basic grooves with Planet Drum partners Zakir Hussain and Giovanni Hidalgo, and then turned to longtime Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter to complete the story with words.
The voices, the last fundamental element of Hart's vision appeared in the form of the Mint Juleps, a remarkable a cappella group from Great Britain. Over the next two years, in between Grateful Dead tours, Mickey continued to refine the grooves, bringing in at various times such players as Airto, former Tower Of Power drummer David Garibaldi, Sikiru, and Youssou N'Dour's bass player, Habib Faye.
While Hunter's words melded perfectly with Mickey's grooves, they really took flight when given voice by the Mint Juleps on songs that run the gamut. To help achieve the album's distinctive sound, Hart enlisted the services of co-producer Robin Millar, who has crafted worldwide hits for the likes of Sade, Fine Young Cannibals and Kate Bush. The collaboration was a fortunate one, resulting in the perfect marriage of ancient and modern, earthy and cosmopolitan — irresistible dance grooves wedded to soaring voices and profoundly affecting words.