Pathways to Unknown Worlds was the final album in a trio of works to have been mixed in quadraphonic sound. While the three free jazz instrumental improvisations are in many respects quite similar to the laissez-faire sonic free for alls that had become synonymous with Ra's concurrent Arkestra, there are quite a few discernible distinctions. Chief is the presence of Ronnie Boykins (bass). Much like Marshall Allen (alto sax/oboe) and John Gilmore (tenor sax/percussion), Boykins had come up through Ra's ranks and his brilliant and expressive offerings to the Arkestras garnered the bassist favorable notice among his peers. As such, by the early '70s his contributions had significantly tapered off. However, Boykins' appearance on this effort seems to be neither lauded nor maligned. True to form, his solos make him a focus of this album. Another sonic element that immediately puts the project into perspective is Ra's incorporation of Moog synthesizer keyboards, which augment his various combinations of electric piano and organ. His perpetual experimentations with the instrument's textures, and its seemingly endless array of frequency responses, provide one of the more consistent motifs on "Pathways to Unknown Worlds," "Extension Out," and "Cosmo-Media." They would remain a source of inspiration and presumably amusement for Ra, both on-stage and in the studio.
Pathways to Unknown Worlds
Pathways to Unknown Worlds Review
by Lindsay Planer