Release Date: Aug 5, 2016
Record label: Technicolour
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Techno, Club/Dance, Experimental Techno, Experimental Electronic, Acid House, Chicago House
Jamal Moss, aka Hieroglyphic Being, has been able to make a name for himself in a very short amount of time. His 2016 miniature album The Disco’s of Imhotep, appropriately, makes a strong impression within 33 short minutes. Moss developed his electro-DJing chops through the underground clubs of Chicago long enough to hit the ground running when it came to a recording career, but The Disco’s of Imhotep hardly needs to coast on all the goodwill surrounding Moss’s past accomplishments to achieve the recognition it is currently enjoying and will continue to receive.
The hardest-working man in Afro-futurist Chicago house is back once more, this time recording for one of Ninja Tunes’ more upbeat labels. Jamal Moss has already banged out a super single for this imprint and this short, punchy collection is not his first (or last) LP of this year either. In the darkened cave that passes for RC’s reviews department, the leg-shackled scribebots glaze over as a thousand identikit house and techno records enter and exit their listening channels, but the pure quality of Moss’ work cuts through time and again.
Joining the dots between Chicago house and the Sun Ra Arkestra is Jamal Moss, prolific user of aliases (Africans With Mainframes is one), coiner of genres (Cosmic Be-Bop) and prolific fryer of brains. By contrast with last year’s feted, more collaborative album on RVNG, The Disco’s of Imhotep is a solo electronic album dedicated to Imhotep, ancient Egyptian pyramid designer and physician. Healing is a theme, but not in the whale-song sense.
Since he began releasing music during the mid-'90s, Jamal Moss (best known as Hieroglyphic Being, among several other pseudonyms and collaborative ventures) has been restlessly prolific, with dozens of EPs and full-lengths appearing via his own Mathematics Recordings as well as highly regarded labels such as Spectral Sound and Soul Jazz Records. The Chicago native's experimental house sound is equally informed by the interplanetary jazz of Sun Ra as well as his city's industrial scene, and his spontaneous recordings, while often danceable, always defy the conventions of dance music. Released in 2016, The Disco's of Imhotep is his first full-length for Technicolour (a Ninja Tune sublabel focused on experimental house 12"s), and it provides a good entry point for listeners who have yet to dive into his overwhelmingly vast, usually brilliant catalog.
One of the ironies about the recent “outsider house” wave—a faddish piece of dance music terminology to describe any club music that is self-consciously lo-fi or rhythmically off-kilter—is that its practitioners, being mostly straight white males, were rather more insider than those who built house music in the first place. You could not accuse Jamal Moss of this. The music Moss produces as Hieroglyphic Being—and under a variety of pseudonyms and collaborative ventures including the Sun God or Africans With Mainframes—shares an interest in degraded sonic textures and damaged rhythms.
Think of Hieroglyphic Being's productions as hieroglyphs themselves, and you'll get the idea. The alias of American sound artist and experimental composer Jamal Moss, Hieroglyphic Being's latest full-length takes nine enigmatic, sensory tracks and stitches them together to create a language of deeply cerebral electronic music. Whilst staying true to the spirit of Chicago house, the prolific Moss (who records under a range of aliases beides this one) has crafted a self-contained album that probes the limits of the genre, while simultaneously being danceable as hell.
The Disco’s Of Imhotep is a binaural record. A free cosmic bebop buried within house loops, it swirls and subverts perception, leaning heavily into dissociative habits and completionist patterns while shaping a canopy of immaculate noise frequencies around the periphery. Swirls of over-burdened melody stew in reverb, aimlessly plummet and return without care, securely harnessed to the pulverizing stomp.
Hieroglyphic Being, a.k.a. Jamal Moss, has never been in the business of ego. The Chicago-based producer, whose rich discography stretches back into the mid-'90s, has always been dedicated to enhancing his craft and connecting with fellow music aficionados.It seems to follow, then, that his latest LP on Ninja Tune's Technicolour label is geared towards using music to heal.
Hieroglyphic Being 'The Disco's Of Imhotep' (Technicolour)“We’ve been made to believe that electronic sounds are just for movement and enlightenment and primal afflictions and entertainment purposes but it’s much more – it’s sound healing, the ancestors would call it frequency medicine,” self-professed ‘outsider’ Hieroglyphic Being says of the album. “Medicine is healing and this project is dedicated to one of Earth’s first healers – High Priest Imhotep. ” Here, Binaural beats are woven into layers of cosmic techno-funk as tracks such as the dramatic ‘Heru’ and challenging ‘The Sound Of KMT’ actually give you aural healing.
Hieroglyphic Being — The Disco’s of Imhotep (Ninja Tune/Technicolour)Jamal Moss’ output, either as Hieroglyphic Being or under other monikers, is famously weighty, with a wealth of releases for the neophyte to get lost in, which makes the sharp, crisp nine tracks on The Disco’s of Imhotep something of a useful primer and entry point for his remarkable take on dance music. And while essentially carved for the dancefloor, there’s a certain weightiness to Moss’ craft, one that navigates the turbulent waters of jazz, funk and electronica. The first sound that hits home when spinning The Disco’s of Imhotep is the rhythm.
Poke around the outer limits of the more colourful music festivals and you will often find someone offering a gong bath, a fashionable kind of sound healing that uses the vibrational frequencies of the gong to reduce stress. It’s the kind of idea that raises rather mixed feelings for the devoted music fan. On the one hand, being healed by a gong sounds like the kind of hippy dippy fluff that is best left behind in the Healing Field at Glastonbury alongside laughter workshops and tarot.