An accomplished octet led by drummer/pianist Malcolm Catto, The Heliocentrics don't so much wear their Sun Ra influences with pride as brandish them brazenly throughout this absorbing debut album. The group's name surely derives from the pair of Heliocentric Worlds albums Ra recorded in the Sixties, hints and echoes of which can be glimpsed in tracks such as "Age of the Sun" (syncopated tenor and baritone saxes duel atop a patina of rhythmic noise) and "Before I Die" (quizzical clarinet and spiky guitar stalk a juddering funk groove).
There are even plucked-string noises in "Zero Hour" that approximate the sound of Ra's space harp. Fragments of sci-fi soliloquising are interspersed between tracks, but apart from the occasional sundry mutterings about space and enlightenment that accompany a few pieces, this is largely an instrumental affair in the vein of recent releases by the likes of David Holmes and David Axelrod, its jazz stylings anchored in infectious funk beats and encompassing a healthy diversity of sounds between the opening shiver of strings and the droning tamboura that closes the album.
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