Hieroglyphic Being

The Disco's of Imhotep

by John Garratt

28 September 2016

Jamal Moss as Hieroglyphic Being does it again. And if you're curious about what "it" is, then enjoy the ride.
Photo: Matthew Avignone 
cover art

Hieroglyphic Being

The Disco's of Imhotep

(Technicolour)
US: 5 Aug 2016
UK: 5 Aug 2016

Jamal Moss, aka Hieroglyphic Being, has been able to make a name for himself in a very short amount of time. His 2016 miniature album The Disco’s of Imhotep, appropriately, makes a strong impression within 33 short minutes. Moss developed his electro-DJing chops through the underground clubs of Chicago long enough to hit the ground running when it came to a recording career, but The Disco’s of Imhotep hardly needs to coast on all the goodwill surrounding Moss’s past accomplishments to achieve the recognition it is currently enjoying and will continue to receive.

Like a glare aimed straight at the eyes, this little album shines with too much brightness to dismiss as just another piece of disposable electronica. And once it captures your attention for the first time, you can’t help but return again and again to the entrancing colors within. This is the kind of release that makes me envy those who experience synesthesia.

While We Are Not the First stylistically sprawled for all that it was worth, The Disco’s of Imhotep is very economic. There are lengthy tracks for sure (they need to be in order to balance out the two tracks that barely clear the one-minute mark), and many of them rely on similar tricks to sustain the magic from start to finish. But “similar” doesn’t mean “same”, and the album couldn’t sound homogeneous or navel-gazing even if it tried.

Lead-off number “The Shrine of the Serpent Goddess” is a scene-setter, opening the door for the listener to a room where soap bubbles and tiny mythological creatures gently float in the open air—or some such scene. It doesn’t last for long as “Sepulchral Offerings” elbows its way in next to remind you that Imhotep isn’t just some abstract ambient album. The song follows in the glorious traditions previously blazed by Richard D. James and certain strains of krautrock where IDM could be as abstract and/or as beat-driven as one liked. All of the synthesizer settings sound like they are trying to jump over one another as they journey up an everlasting castle wall. The sounds are so bright they render dance clubs trivial.

“Crocodile Skin” and “Spiritual Alliances” then take a step towards glitchier territory as the slightest latency in note/beat combination paint a picture of constant forward momentum.

Though all nine tracks are cut from the same cloth, they still sound like special snowflakes unto themselves should you be willing to put forth a small amount of effort into getting acquainted with The Disco’s of Imhotep. The title track rides on a hazy simmer that threatens to turn into a full boil but knows better than to do so. “Heru” dishes out a very infectious musical motif only to snatch it back after just 70 seconds. “Nubian Energy” is probably the most unnerving track of all since its foundation is made from slow burning beats and eerie jungle sounds. It certainly doesn’t feel like a last track.

But listening to The Disco’s of Imhotep from top to bottom is not a neat and tidy experience. Despite the like-minded force driving each track, you still don’t feel like you just listened to an album in any traditional sense. Instead, you feel like you have been blinded by various degrees of DJ-ing science, either a strong testament to Hieroglyphic Being’s uncompromising nature or inspiration run amok. And since the latter could be considered an insult only under certain circumstances, it’s safe to say that The Disco’s of Imhotep will go down in electronica history as a very successful experiment.

The Disco's of Imhotep

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