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2 septembre 2013 1 02 /09 /septembre /2013 14:17

Country : USA
Genre : Experimental
Style : Instrumental , Psychedelic

Label : Now-Again Records
Year : 2013




There's something about being a band unstuck in time that makes the question of aging and consistency almost beside the point. Out There, the debut Heliocentrics album from 2007, still sounds good six years later-- largely because it would've sounded good 40 years prior. Evoking eras without highlighting their most obvious reference points-- all in the process of concocting internationally minded jazz-funk without definitively pointing towards specific geographical sources-- drummer Malcolm Catto assembled a group that only loosely hinted at nostalgic exotica. Instead, they became a live-band culmination of every obsessive hip-hop-era producer's drive to fall deeper into a rabbit hole of the previously unheard. That they were able to translate that experience into collaborative albums with Middle Eastern music scholar Lloyd Miller and Ethio-jazz cornerstone Mulatu Astatke was not only a big honor, but a fitting one.

And yet with all their previous works' engagement with this hazy '70s-via-'90s-via-now sample-source sound, 13 Degrees of Reality finds another angle. The catch is that this their new common thread is a nervous, conspiracy-minded anxiety, the kind that burbles up during points in recent history when the horrible seems feasible. There's not really anything inherently dread-inducing about the Heliocentrics' music itself, which ranges anywhere from delicate beauty to sweaty-palmed intensity. But it can be convincingly heard as a soundtrack to justified paranoia when the first voices on the album are George H.W. Bush's invocation of the “New World Order” segueing into Malcolm X revealing the American dream as an “American nightmare.”

A front-to-back listen hints at barely-controlled chaos simmering for a bit before fading into a wide, dusty horizon. Second track “Ethnicity” reveals a twitchy energy, built off twanging strings, mountainous hard rock breaks, and wandering melodic chimes so distorted by reverb they could be anything from marimbas to thumb pianos. “Mysterious Ways” folds the rhythm section from Can's “Vitamin C” into origami, flips the speed to 45, and jabs at it with analog-electronic stings that have all the interrogatory jabber of Sun Ra's more chaotic pieces. And “Descarga Electronica” hammers out tendon-snapping MPB rhythms drenched in a glaze of bristly guitar feedback. But everything eventually flattens out into an almost meditative reverie once “Wrecking Ball” and its 7-and-change minutes of gauzy, slow-motion acid-funk emerges. By the time the twangy desert soul of “Mr. Owusu, I Presume?” and the rain-drenched, humid glimmer of the kalimba-spattered “Black Sky” seep through the speakers, it feels like snapping out of a jarring but invigorating low orbit into something a bit more free-floating and warm.

Brief interludes call up the defiant croak of William S. Burroughs (“No, we will not listen to you, we have had enough of your common bullshit”) and distant-sounding transmissions from creepy-sounding entities who claim to have access to peoples' dreams and minds. But the album, even as it strings these clips together, isn't some kitschy freak-out montage. It's got the breadth of a comprehensively adventurous band, able to balance a steady motorik churn midway between Kraut and deep soul while letting the pull of improvisational tangents and dub distortion shift the picture. If that style can pull off the tense resistance that the distorted voice clips hint at, it also works as its own thing-- an unnerving album composed of alluring pieces.



Tracklist :

01 – Feedback (Intro) [00:04:14]
02 – Ethnicity [00:01:38]
03 – (Interlude) Public Safety Broadcast [00:00:23]
04 – Mysterious Ways [00:01:33]
05 – (Interlude) Dreams [00:00:45]
06 – Collateral Damage [00:04:04]
07 – (Interlude) Outtakes [00:00:16]
08 – Freeness Part 2 [00:02:30]
09 – Wrecking Ball [00:07:43]
10 – (Interlude) Mind Readers [00:00:39]
11 – Descarga Electronica [00:02:30]
12 – (Interlude) A Musical Conspiracy [00:00:46]
13 – Eastern Begena [00:03:58]
14 – (Interlude) Kitchen Jam [00:01:35]
15 – Mr. Owusu, I Presume_ [00:03:41]
16 – (Interlude) The Abstract And The Absolute [00:00:53]
17 – Black Sky [00:03:24]
18 – (Interlude) Prepare For Lift-Off [00:00:59]
19 – Path Of The Black Sun [00:02:34]
20 – Calabash [00:03:42]
21 – Vibrations Of The Fallen Angels Edit (Outro) [00:02:19]


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