The Heliocentric, renowned for their collaborations with Mulatu Astake and Dj Shadow (among others), here add a new singer to their rich international brew, in the form of Barbora Patkova from Slovakia. A World Of Masks is another adventure in sound, mostly improvised, from a group who contain multitudes. Out on Soundway.
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Overwrought with a bunch of things we’ll call stuff, the Heliocentrics have moved the planets together here for a record of cosmic experiments that happen around songs. ‘A World of Masks’ was mostly improvised, as can be seen in its languishing droning moments and the occasional vocal mantras of new singing addition Barbora Patkova -- but it still feels like something of a story-told rock album, its murmurations of songs full of a strange kind of conviction.
Warped and pulsating, the Heliocentrics juggle jazz and psychedelia in a world where tight grooves can be misted up and songs can be infiltrated with chance arrangements. “Time” is a song outside of itself, its string flourishes swirling into a thick swamp of krauty happenings. “Human Zoo” opens on an old-school psychedelia before smoky horns and a Can-lite bassline turn the whole thing into a weird, freefalling jam. With a record as dense with non-arranged contributions, you can hear hints of what bit of each genre each member likes -- you can hear it oozing out pastoral bits, high bits and spooky bits, but it becomes such a sonic mash that you’re left with little more than a groove at the source of it all -- the record’s epicentre, “Dawn Chorus”, speaks to the band’s ability to sound quite at home and way too far from it.
This record exists quite peripherally but has a strong, firm foot in reality too -- it’s a collection of cosmic jams for people who wouldn’t mind a blueprint or two before they go floating into the abyss. With Patkova offering steady and deadpan vocals over electronic swathes and tenor sax booms on tracks like “The Wake”, the record feels a little more whole -- amidst the freeform constellations, it has a tour guide.
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