Brother Ah / Robert Northern

Sound Awareness

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This is about what you'd expect from a man with the Arkestra on his resumé. The fingerprints of Sun Ra are all over this thing, from the crazy, tilting keyboards to the thundering waves of percussion. What keeps this from being just a pale imitation is the guest list, which includes names like Max Roach and his percussion ensemble, M'Boom. Most of this is the sort of expansive prog-jazz one would expect. The oddest track is the side-long "Love Piece," probably a close approximation of what this ensemble was like live. While the leader shouts commands, the bandmembers play as if their lives depend on it, wrestling and embracing a 90-voice choir. It's a unique piece and an uplifting one. It's also a snapshot of a moment that will never happen again, a point where hippies and soul men almost embraced. If you dig the spaced-out galaxy of the Arkestra, this is sure to grab you too.

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