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Songs We Love: Hieroglyphic Being & JITU Ahn-Sahm-Buhl, 'Universe Is A Simulation'

Hieroglyphic Being, a.k.a. Jamal Moss, collaborates with J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl on <em>We Are Not The First</em>, out Oct. 30.
Celeste Sloman
Courtesy of the artist
Hieroglyphic Being, a.k.a. Jamal Moss, collaborates with J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl on We Are Not The First, out Oct. 30.

Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl, <em>We Are Not The First</em> (RVNG Intl.)
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl, We Are Not The First (RVNG Intl.)

Even in the world of outré electronics, the experimental-music swings of Chicagoan Jamal Moss are radical. If you have the hips, stomach and brain for a steady stream of sonic surprises, he's your man in lo-fi techno. Among the many technologically astute and historically Afrocentric monikers Moss hides behind, Hieroglyphic Being has come to be his best known­ — if only because the labels through which Moss releases HB records (beside his self-run Mathematics Recordings) have the widest distribution. Moss' unendingly prolific output of avant-garde beats is heavier on ideas and distressed funk than on glamour. Yet having operated in this way since at least the turn of the century, and having accrued numerous co-conspirators along the way, it seems unlikely that Moss' methodology will ever be reined in. Nor should it be.

On We Are Not The First, a new album he's created with the so-called J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Bul, Moss takes a turn at astral jazz. His ideal is less Kamasi Washington than Sun Ra, and not just because former Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen is among the gathered. "Universe Is A Simulation," a duet between what sounds like a Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer and the deeply muted and mutated horn of free-jazz veteran Daniel Carter, is almost the perfect distillation of where Moss' studio-built recording is headed. The voyage of the piece, and of the entire album, is only tangentially about the spiritual improvised awakenings; it's really about tapping into core Innerzone truths created by musical juxtapositions.

Moss' synth lines arrive in an unsteady flurry, while backwards-masked loops provide an adjacent spine and a light keyboard chimes up to brighten the proceedings. Into this bit of machine futurism arrives Carter — hidden, at first, but more forthrightly as the track proceeds. His blue, late-night ballad lines are of the sort that could be syncopated with an acid-house crooner. By the end, Carter and Moss' two worlds seem to be dancing side by side, but also with one another as the world grows richer around them.

We Are Not The First is out Oct. 31 on RVNG Intl.

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