Ras G

Back on the Planet

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Ras G's evolution from avant-beat tape maker to intergalactic waveform manipulator has been guided by the cosmic philosophy of Sun Ra. Previous releases like Views of Saturn #1 EP and Space Base Is the Place referenced the legendary jazz man with their titles, artwork, and utterly "out there" sounds, some of it coming right off Ra's original recordings but run through Ras G's funky space tumbler. Think space age bachelor pad music from an alternate universe and you are in the vicinity of these esoteric but awesome releases. But even if the artwork for Back on the Planet shows Ras with Ankh in hand and his eyes gazing up at Ra's home planet of Saturn, there's some down and dirty stuff here that flies against the overall uplift of Ra's Arkestra and their music. "All Is Well…" pits spacey bebop against '50s exotica music for that space-is-the-place vibe, while the title track sounds like a recording of the Arkestra achieving spiritual lift-off with Ras G is warping the tapes, but even with some exotic koto playing and a tightly looped incantation, "Been Cosmic" is so bass-heavy and cool that it sits much closer to Skrillex than it does Sun Ra. If that seems garish and gross, artistic anchors like "Asteroid Storm…" (a possible shortwave radio broadcast of William S. Burroughs' cut-up recordings) and "OMMMM…" (Buddhist monks getting hyphy on Bay Area hip-hop, or something quite like it) keeps this one out in far left-field. Ras' use of Ra as a jumping-off point allows for some welcome funk this time around, plus the album flows fine, twisting and turning and yet staying on point, as if the listener were channel hopping on Venus and Ra and Dilla were the local answers to the Beatles and the Stones. An amazing journey from the outer limits to street level with a wormhole in the middle, Back on the Planet is stellar.

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