The Wire

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Listen: tracks by The Heliocentrics And Melvin Van Peebles

November 2014

Stream tracks from The Heliocentrics and Melvin Van Peebles's collaborative album, Last Transmission

Melvin Van Peebles was born in Chicago in 1932, and after a stint in the air force and as a cable car driver in San Francisco, started making films. His privately funded (with a loan from comedian Bill Cosby) 1971 movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song was a touchstone for emerging black American cinema in the 70s, and was also scored by Van Peebles – one of a number of composers gigs that Van Peebles worked.

Philip Brophy reviews The Heliocentrics And Melvin Van Peebles's Last Transmission in The Wire 369: "The crossroads in the mythology and culture of black music is not simply a single north axis intersecting a west axis. It’s more like an array of asterisks and crosses of countless junctions in the history of the music. As you squint at this map of cross-cutting lines, it becomes a pulsing black dot. Zoom in and it becomes a throbbing planet. It’s this web of junctions which is explored in Last Transmission by The Heliocentrics with Melvin Van Peebles. This is the third project by the UK based group dealing with black musical aesthetics and (by inference) politics. The music is in thrall to the interracial fault line where head rock became a blackened psychedelica ooze, courtesy of Funkadelic’s 1973 album Cosmic Slop. The production plays out like fictional outtakes of the messiest grooves and liquefied backbeats from the Clinton mother ship. Raw drum sounds, retro triple-time echoes and random oscillators add to the smeared studiophonic textures."

Last Transmission is released by Now-Again.

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