Melodies shimmer within the depths of a narcotised haze, teasing the ear, the extraterrestrial bleep and chatter of The Heliocentrics’ sci-fi rock enticing us to the freak limits, pushing us all the way, Out There. It’s the sound of blown minds, of half-remembered B-movie soundtracks, of the sweat-stained, snarling ecstasy of James Brown, and sprawling vistas of Ennio Morricone; it is an uglier, nastier, less-obvious, UNKLE. Propelling our craft on this space odyssey is drummer Malcolm Catto, his crew rounded out by members of DJ Shadow’s backing band.
Like the work of DJ Shadow, The Heliocentrics’ music is sample heavy. Throughout this tranced voyage, snippets of film dialogue sparkle like distant stars, tales of heroic robots, journeys to ‘Copernicus Crater’ and creatures that came from another planet adding a geeky glister to the whacked-out tunes. Meanwhile, the musicians seek to realise the alien theme through strange, hybrid song.
‘Sirius B’ corkscrews into the ground, drums clattering, brass squealing, the beat hyperventilating, creating a sense of ineffable dread. Spitting jazz-fuelled, Eastern-tinged turmoil, ‘Joyride’ weaves a dizzying spell, guaranteed to give you motion sickness, whilst ‘The American Empire’ captures the sound inside MC Escher’s head, a tricksy, confounding collage comprising shards of piano, strings and bruised beats that seem to loop towards infinity before succumbing to inevitable collapse.
‘Age Of The Sun’ has a wonderfully ramshackle opening, brass and percussion feinting this way and that, desperately trading blows, before the introduction of enchanting keys. It is wonderment in one compelling dose, roll up your sleeve and prepare to take the hit. The brilliance of Catto’s drumming is highlighted to dazzling effect on ‘Winter Song’. His controlled-explosion beat the shore upon which all else breaks. To the last and ‘Falling To Earth’ is determinedly unruly, full of wincing thumps, snatches of ethereal electronica and suggestively Oriental embellishments.
Those in search of pristine melody will be infuriated by Out There. Indeed you can’t help sensing that the record’s creators revel in the willfully esoteric nature of their offspring, delight in its every asymmetric gurgle and description defying tantrum. However, beyond the lack of neon emboldened pay-offs, there remains much to savour. And, ultimately, what seems most important here is the journey, not the destination.
7Francis Jones's Score