Out There (Now-Again Records)

The Heliocentrics

Released September 25, 2007

The Guardian Highest Rated Jazz Albums of All Time






Good luck trying to categorize this album. Led by the relentless drummer Malcolm Catto, the UK collective’s objective lays quite a ways beyond what ordinary listeners know or expect. In an alternative galaxy, where the orbits of Hip-Hop, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic, Electronic, Avante-Garde and Ethnic music all revolve around “The One” – that’s where you might find The Heliocentrics. A listen to a song or two reveals no small influence from the funk universe of James Brown. But there’s also the disorienting asymmetry of Sun Ra’s music. The cinematic scope of Ennio Morricone. The sublime fusion of David Axelrod. But the Heliocentrics’ music isn’t retro. It’s brand new. And it’s timeless. They have well-placed fans in the likes of Madlib (Catto was featured on his Shades of Blue album and on various Yesterdays New Quintet releases) and DJ Shadow (the band backed him on the song “This Time I’m Gonna Do It My Way” from his The Outsider album), who will tell you that this band is really the next shit but that they have the consistency and musicianship that seems to have been lost somewhere in the analog to digital shuffle over the past thirty years.

Track Listing:

1. Intro (The Heliocentrics) 0:38

2. Distant Star (The Heliocentrics) 5:01

3. Flight 583 (The Heliocentrics) 0:14

4. Once Upon a Time (The Heliocentrics) 2:42

5. Beyond Repair (The Heliocentrics) 0:55

6. Sirius B (The Heliocentrics) 5:08

7. [Untitled] (The Heliocentrics) 2:40

8. They Are Among Us, Pt. 1 (The Heliocentrics) 0:37

9. The Zero Hour (The Heliocentrics) 4:17

10. Joyride (The Heliocentrics) 5:11

11. The American Empire (The Heliocentrics) 3:18

12. Before I Die (The Heliocentrics) 3:36

13. Intermission (The Heliocentrics) 1:35

14. Age of the Sun (The Heliocentrics) 4:12

15. They Are Among Us, Pt. 2 (The Heliocentrics) 0:32

16. Winter Song (The Heliocentrics) 4:56

17. A World of Masks (The Heliocentrics) 4:33

18. Sounds of the East (The Heliocentrics) 1:32

19. Somewhere out There (The Heliocentrics) 1:25

20. Second Chance (K2’s Prayer) (The Heliocentrics) 5:26

21. Return Journey (The Heliocentrics) 0:20

22. Sirius A (The Heliocentrics) 3:28

23. Falling to Earth (The Heliocentrics) 5:24

24. Outro (The Heliocentrics) 0:29


Malcolm Catto: drums & piano

Jake Ferguson: bass & Thai guitar

Mike Burnham: modular synth & effects

Jack Yglesias: flutes, percussion & santur

Adrian Owusu: guitars, oud & percussion

James Arben: clarinet, tenor & baritone sax

Ray Carless: alto, tenor & baritone sax

Max Weissenfeldt: vibes & percussion

Khadijatou Silcott-Fraser (K2 Wordplay): vocals

Recorded at Quatermass, England; Tardis Studios, Australia

Produced by Malcolm Catto, Mike Burnham & Jake Ferguson

Mastering by Kelly Hibbert

Artwork by Matt Rowlands

Executive Produced by Egon


Malcolm Catto is best known as DJ Shadow’s drummer; here he emerges as a talent in his own right, leading a nine-piece band through music that merges eastern and African music with funk, jazz and hip-hop. There are echoes of everyone from Bill Laswell’s Material to Ennio Morricone to David Axelrod and Sun Ra, but the glue holding this seven-year odyssey together is Catto, who holds down a similar role here to that which Nigerian afrobeat legend Tony Allen does in his big bands. Catto’s thundering, heavy beats allow his musicians the freedom to explore musical territories, and the results are swathed in psychedelia, echo and enigma. However, a succession of nimble hooks means the listener is engaged, not baffled. It’s all instrumental – give or take the odd vocal sample – but this is an innovative album that shows how, with enough vision, you don’t need a voice.

Dave Simpson (The Guardian)