Album Review: 13 Degrees of Reality by The Heliocentrics
Very Good, Based on 5 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
In the intervening six years between Out There, the Heliocentrics' debut, and 13 Degrees of Reality, the U.K.-based ensemble backed Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke on his Steps Ahead and live Timeless offerings. They also released a collaborative album with world-jazz pioneer Lloyd Miller. Whereas their debut set offered funk and hip-hop grooves refracted through the lens of vanguard jazz, this date is an exercise in dark rhythmic pulses and breaks, with jazz, rock, a wide array of world musics, hip-hop, and funk all playing supporting roles; it's led by the rhythm section -- drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist/vibist Jake Ferguson.
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.
The Heliocentrics are best classified as being unclassifiable, embodying the tenets of eclecticism and non-conformity. Fusing elements of jazz, electronic music, psychedelia, world music, and funk, the decade-plus aged British group is nothing short of one of a kind. Influenced by a host of musicians including Sun Ra and Ennio Morricone among them, the Heliocentrics return with a shocking set in 13 Degrees of Reality, released via Now Again.
's Out There established London, UK-based the Heliocentrics as a formidable psychedelic jazz ensemble, offering instrumental, head-bobbing funk and hip-hop grooves soaked in Sun-Ra-inspired, cosmic Afro-futurism. The last six years have seen collaborations with like-minded sonic adventurers DJ Shadow, Quantic, Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke (on 2009's Inspiration Information 3) and Oriental jazz trailblazer Dr. Lloyd Miller (on 2010's Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics) that raised their profile to greater heights.
Six years on from their turbulent, sometimes sinister debut Out There, London collective The Heliocentrics, led by drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson, return with another set of mind-melting psychedelic funk. The band have boosted their profile considerably in the intervening time, not least through collaborating with Ethiopian legend Mulatu Astatke. However, 13 Degrees Of Reality makes little concession either to convention or commercial imperative.