Mixing forward-looking sounds and studio wizardry, the new CD from the New Orleans collective the Other Planets, led by percussionist and sampler Anthony Cuccia, strikes an eclectic chord. This record, Eightballs in Angola, has 10 tracks of gonzo speed-blowing, seemingly random notes and sounds, and an enthusiastic attitude. The band seems to have a lot of fun playing with each other and playing these songs, and that vibe permeates every selection on this CD. The record recalls Frank Zappa’s stop-on-a-dime-and-switch arrangements, with fast vibraphone runs courtesy of Matt McLimon and sarcastic lyrics in tunes such as “Rock and Roll Ain’t Easy.”
Other songs possess a touch of the gravelly avant-blues and honking stomp of Captain Beefheart. In the same way that Beefheart’s music continually surprises the listener, this recording has the similar songs that contain the opposite of the conventional, hypnotic grooves that are the basis of funk and techno. There are also tunes such as “Who’s at the Dragon’s Den.” with the mystical space synthesizers of Sun Ra’s Arkestra.
Each song sounds different, and the band plays around with the studio to add computerized and processed sounds or vocals which gives the CD a futuristic feel. One of Sun Ra’s maxims was, “If you’re not prepared for the future, then you’re probably not ready for the present, either.” The Other Planets and Eightballs in Angola have both covered.