Boomkat Product Review:
Part of a vital reissue program, The Pyramids’ 1974 salvo is a pinnacle of spiritual jazz deeply regarded for its extraordinary 18 minute work ’Nsorama (The Stars)’ plus other ecstasies.
One of those rare comets that comes back into orbit every so often, ’King of Kings’ makes its first earthly visit in a decade via Strut, along with the band’s other two LPs that helped bookend a short but incredible run of spiritual Afro-jazz classic between 1973-76. In between ‘Lalibela’ (1973) and ‘Birth / Speeding / Merging’ (1976), the ensemble co-founded and led since 1972 by Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Simmons and Kimathi Asante would achieve a peak of its powers in Paris before ultimately moving to San Francisco and disbanding by ’77, with ‘King of Kings’ remaining a full force feat of thunderous drumming, cascading instrumental colours and powerful voices amassed in celebration of hard won and newfound freedoms.
‘Mogho Naba (King of Kings)’ lights it off with a joyous stampede of percussion, wind, hammered keys and ecstatic vocals that arguably pave the way for the likes of Goat in the modern day, and the three-part ‘Queen of Spirits’ follows to more hard swingeing murmurations of galloping rhythm and jazz-funk, into some of the deadliest drumming you will ever hear, and a 3rd-eye gyring finale of communal beauty. The 18 minute highlight ’Nsorama (The Stars)’ simmers those energies down to a breezier, fluidly open structure of swaying harmonies and complex consonant/dissonant dialogue that really lets it all out, before collapsing into the sublime lushness of ‘My Africa’.