Whew!!! The mind-blowing, tape-effected 1973 free-jazz recordings of Khan Jamal and co finally come back to vinyl orbit with Aguirre, remarkably paralleling developments in dub and foreshadowing avant evolutions of post-punk, jungle and ‘90s technoid dub experiments by decades. Seriously this is the ONE!!!
Nearly 50 years since it was first projected into the ether of The Catacombs, Philadelphia, ‘Drum Dance To The Motherland’ has steadily amassed a cult reputation for its bewildering, lysergic swirl of effected, rhythmelodic vibes. As your ears will tell you, it sounds quite unlike anything else on the planet from then or now, but only a scant number of reissues/represses on CD and vinyl in the past 15 years have kept it from obscurity and close to the bosoms of those in the know, which could now mean you, too.
An outpouring of free jazz expressionism and fusioneering psychedelia, ‘Drum Dance To The Motherland’ is firmly rooted in myriad modes of post-bop free jazz, blues, R&B, even edging on Afrobeat at times, but it’s the instinctively forward-looking dub rendering of Mario Falana’s real-time, hand-on-desk dubbing that sends the results stratospheric. With judicious use of echo and delay, Falana is like a spectral counterpart to the band, finely attuned with their groove and nimbly giving them whole other, shimmering dimensions to play around and within.
The recording documents an emergent Afro-American consciousness of the late 60s and early ’70 bubbling to the fore in their artful music, where, as Jamal says; “My ancestors eventually show up in my music every time i play. I’ve always said that my backyard is Africa.” While perhaps heard most distinctively in the dubbed-out, rolling breaks of final cut ‘Breath of Life’, the energies unleashed here are simply extraordinary, emerging from the tempered tempest of ‘Drum Dance of the Motherland’, across the limb-feathering murmuration of its title tune, and the breathtaking spectral interplay of ‘Inner Peace’ to leave an indelible impression of any first time listeners, and beyond.
Think ‘Bitches Brew’ Miles meets The Upsetter at the Black Ark to imagine templates for 4 Hero’s ‘Parallel Universe’, and on thru Jamie Hodge’s techno-jazz or Autechre remixing Tortoise, and you’re in the zone for this one. Incredible.
RIP Khan Jamal (1946-2022).