Oct 24, 2014 Music
On previous outings, Ellison has plundered the history of African-American music with a healthy disrespect for his sources, forging something indescribably new by feeding it into his mental mulcher and, like outsider legends before him (Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman) creating his own musical mythology.
Despite his heavy duty guests and a big-ass budget, this extremely collaged music sounds like it has been funnelled through a dynamics-reducing machine to add wrinkles, sonic wear and tear and thin out the sound so that it will annoy stereo buffs, but sound just fine on tinny computer speakers.
Despite that, these 19 tracks – each with its own bizarre Shintaro Kago manga illustration – make for an engaging journey, cleverly incorporating complex 1970s-style jazz-fusion performances without turning us off with the instrumental wankery. He keeps the noodling in check with a sultry soul accent and enough groove and movement to lock the instrumentalists in well-defined windows within the overall flow. It’s an ambitious work that will doubtless make many “best of year” lists.