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"fuck the ghetto. Think about outer space".

The mantra from the central track on We Are Not The First is probably Jamal Moss' most direct and straightforward explanation of his philosophy to date, while, from his early work in house through to the experimental fringes of Chicago's burgeoning electronic scene, he's been about escapism, he's never been about escapism without (you feel) a higher purpose. He's made no secret of his love of Sun Ra through his career, and it's Sun Ra's fundamental science fiction politics that he's channeling here. While Sun Ra was rarely openly political, his existence as a queer person of colour living life as a jazz musician in the '50s onwards was political in itself, before you even consider his more otherworldly claims. Moss here, like Ra, turns to outer space for the feeling of freedom and release, but unlike Ra who used his interplanetary story to occupy a place above the earth, Moss is unashamedly cemented here, using Ra's story to free others. Like a disciple, Moss is focused on spreading the word of Ra, not becoming him.

"fuck the ghetto. Think about outer space".

He's using Ra to free others, but what from? While Ra was focused on complete escapism, Moss is focused on complete realism. His lyrics and his music are cemented in the current, explicitly designed for the people around him at the present. He's bringing the realness that Kendrick Lamar and the likes bring to a new stage - there's no backing away, there's no soul-freeing music here: while he's utilizing Marshall Allen and the JITU ahn-sahm-buhl to full effect, it's not for the floating escapology that Ra preached, it's to aid his flow, his thoughts and to pack weight to his message. Packaging the talents of various Arkestra members into the Hieroglyphic Being world of loose claustrophobic house and techno is an incredible move - the jazz that's here sounds as trapped and as frantic as those Moss is talking to.

While it's important to discuss the political approaches Moss uses here, the music is the important element, the package that it's all delivered in. And it's simply incredible - the punch of Moss' house beats and the JITU jazz whirling frantically behind it is incredible: there's nothing quite like it. It's a genre all of their own creating - while jazz, and especially free jazz is not alien to electronic experimentation, the combined virtuoso talents of moss and JITU make this a wildly new achievement. There's elements of the intensity found in the recent Blanck Mass or Carter Tutti Void albums (with the latter's sense of post-apocalyptic constraint and confusion) with moments of pure Ayler-esque liberation that only lasts so long as you know it's going to crash into earth any second. The threat of a crash, of another infected groove around the corner haunts the free moments, where the tension in the music is palpable.

Moss's vision, from music to politics, is singular and unbelievably powerful. There's nothing I can do to aptly describe the power of this album - it's without a doubt one of the finest albums to be released in a hell of a long time. Believe in the power of Hieroglyphic Being & JITU.

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