The Heliocentrics have their roots in the late '90s when drummer Malcolm Catto was cutting singles for Mo' Wax and Jazzman while also working with Connie Price and the Keystones. He and bassist/co-producer Jake Ferguson formed the outfit to back DJ Shadow on the 2006 singles "This Time..." and "Skullfuckery." The band issued their own debut, the psych-jazz full-length Out There, for Stones Throw in 2007. In interviews, Catto and Ferguson acknowledged James Brown, Elvin Jones, David Axelrod, Sun Ra, Ennio Morricone, Stark Reality, and Joyride as influences. The full nonet included Catto on drums and piano; Ferguson on bass and Thai guitar; Mike Burnham on modular synthesizers and effects; Jack Yglesias on flute, percussion, and santur; Adrian Owusu on guitars, oud, and percussion; James Arben on clarinet and tenor and baritone saxophones; Ray Carless on alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones; Max Weissenfeldt on vibes and percussion; and Khadijatou Silcott-Fraser (K2 Wordplay) on vocals. Saxophonist/bass clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings was also a regular contributor.
The group first appeared on wax in 2005 with the release of the Nico-sampled "Winter Song" 7" on Jazzman. After contributing to DJ Shadow's 2006 album The Outsider and subsequent 12" singles, the Heliocentrics signed to Stones Throw subsidiary Now Again Records and released their debut album, Out There, in 2007, along with a few 12" singles. "Before I Die," featuring Guilty Simpson, appeared that year, while "Distant Star" (with Percee P and DOOM) and "Sirius B" (with Vast Aire) followed in 2008. Strut released Inspiration Information, the group's collaboration with Mulatu Astatke in 2009, and Fallen Angels: The Singles Collection in Japan later in the year. Lloyd Miller the Heliocentrics, their collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and Middle Eastern jazz innovator Dr. Lloyd Miller, appeared on Strut in 2010.
They didn't issue another recording until 2013, when they re-emerged with 13 Degrees of Reality, The Quatermass Sessions, Vol. 1, and Helio x GLK (with the Gaslamp Killer), all on Now-Again. Two collaborative LPs appeared in 2014: Jaiyede Afro with Orlando Julius (on Strut) and The Last Transmission with American director/poet/activist Melvin Van Peebles (on Now-Again). From the Deep arrived in February of 2016.
The Heliocentrics did a slew of touring and collaborative work -- collectively and separately -- before embarking on a new phase in their musical journey. Upon re-entering the studio, the band turned their free-flowing, beat-based focus toward a future brand of psychedelic rock. To that end, they enlisted Slovakian vocalist/actress/dancer Barbora Patkova, who shared the same improvisational aesthetic as the Heliocentrics. The end result was 2017's critically acclaimed A World of Masks, their debut for Soundway. A month later, their original score and soundtrack for Cosmo Feilding-Mellen's documentary The Sunshine Makers (about LSD evangelists/ manufacturers Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully) appeared from Soundway. In February 2020, they kicked off the third decade of the 21st century with Infinity of Now, their debut album for Madlib's Madlib Invazion label. Their second album of the year appeared just months later, with the spacy, extraterrestrial grooves of Telemetric Sounds materializing in August. ~ Michael G. Nastos & Thom Jurek, Rovi
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