new sounds of Zhontaar

For the past few years, the principal musical genre inspirations for my game- and fantasy-related brainstorms have been space rock (of the Pink Floyd/Hawkwind/Gong variety) and 1970s “Berlin School” kraut-electronica of the Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze variety.  More traditional D&D fare — heavy metal and progressive rock — have also played roles, but the spaced-out stuff has been what really gets my brain firing.

When thinking about Zhontaar, the standard space rock fare falls a little flat – the flavors just don’t mix quite right.  Some of the more tripped-out krautrock approaches the vibe pretty well (Embryo, Dzyan, Kanaan, Et Cetera, etc.) as do some of my regular ambient faves, but what’s really doing it for me lately are the 1971-74 experiments by Herbie Hancock and his avant-fusion “Mwandishi” group.  How to describe this stuff?  Relentless trance-inducing funky basslines, groovy phased drums and percussion, ring-modulated Rhodes and echo-drenched horns shifting and drifting through a range of moods and textures, with plenty of modular synth weirdness tossed in for good measure.  Spaced-out spiritual stuff, looking simultaneously into the far future and distant past…  Click on the album titles below to listen – headphones recommended!

Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi (1971), Crossings (1971), Sextant (1972)

Julian Priester – Love, Love (1974)

Bennie Maupin – The Jewel in the Lotus (1974)

Eddie Henderson – Realization (1973), Inside Out (1974)

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One response

  1. CROSSINGS by H. Hancock is one of my all-time favourites, hugely underrated and definitely to be used as backdrop for my own upcoming X-plorers campaign, “Ergauss Minor” Gotta love that Maupin bass wobble.

    No Sun Ra, “Heliocentric Worlds” though??

    03/27/2010 at 11:43

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