Sometimes a record really surprises you and surpasses your expectations. I’ve been digging Malcom Catto and The Heliocentrics for a few years now but their new album, A World of Masks, really blows my goose-pimples’ socks off. I stick the platter on the turntable and let the stylus gently kiss the groove. Subtle sounds seep from my speakers and bounce off my walls. But wait, this isn’t the psych jazz funk rock I was expecting; this is different. The Helio’s, it seems, have picked up a vocalist: Barbora Patkova. Babs’ Slovakian song soaks up the improv’ grooves with a porous embrace. Could this be The Heliocentrics’ missing link? My initial pull to this band wasthe masterful and manic drums. I can say this because I’m a drummer: Malcolm Catto is a fucking brilliant drummer. I’ve seen him live and I’ve listened to his work on a multitude of projects. The man can play them tubs. With The Heliocentrics debut, Out There, Malcolm’s rhythms were almost exhausting to keep up with, and bafflingly impossible to copy, but, on A World of Masks he’s no less tight, snappy and crisp, he’s subtle and set back, slightly. The man’s a human metronome and still guides each song as they’re neatly and sweetly interconnected with precision, but this gentler approach works to the band’s credit and enhances Babs’ soothing chants to an end that steers this away from an improv’ style to a more succinct body of work. A World of Masks isn’t just a classy jazz piece, it’s a multifaceted, multi-cultural masterpiece that whisks you around the globe and back again, picking up influences from Turkey, Morocco and Slovakia along the way.
A World of Masks is released on Soundway Records on the 26th May.
By Richard Bamford