Hieroglyphic Being and the Configurative or Modular Me Trio, The Seer Of Cosmic Visions

Richard Gehr

By Richard Gehr

on 10.07.14 in Reviews

From his recording name down to many of his track titles, Jamal Moss owes more than a little to Sun Ra, the original afrofuturist. Ra would often re-edit and repackage tracks for micro releases on his Saturn label, and Hieroglyphic Being is marking the jump from his own Mathematics label to the higher-profile Planet Mu with nine space-themed, yet intensely visceral, remastered tracks from his own extensive vinyl and CD-R catalog. Moss has assembled — and reassembled — some of his gnarlier, rougher and more ambitiously challenging drum-and-synth excursions for this righteous reintroduction.

Where form and chaos coexist

Sun Ra was a pioneer of electronic-keyboard performance, and his analog activity in that realm provides subtext throughout The Seer of Cosmic Visions, from the timeless fade-in of the opening title track’s industrial polyrhythms and whooshing keyboards onward. Form and chaos coexist here as in Ra’s world. With a drum track like a radio signal on the barest edge of discernibility, the overdriven yet strangely seductive “How Wet Is Ur Box” turns formlessness into form. Moss has recorded plenty of finely tooled beats in his career, but you won’t find any smooth surfaces here. Every track delivers its own flavor of alien — from the dueling electric-Miles keyboards of “Space is the Place” (not the Sun Ra classic) to the increasing klaxonic caterwaul of “Calling Planet Earth.” Like Sun Ra, Lee “Scratch” Perry or even Aphex Twin, Moss approaches his music as pure present tense, mixing each track in real time and constantly raising the tension level while grounding it in something surprisingly human.