Ornette Coleman – Science Fiction

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Tons of juxtaposition: Asha Puthli’s vocals on “What Reason Could I Give” and “All My Life” sounds like she’s standing atop a building, demanding answers to questions to Gods she knows doesn’t exist but wishes they did while the drums pound chaos in the city below; every word spoken on “Science Fiction” is lost in the instrumental vortex, as if to say language doesn’t exist in Coleman’s vision of the future; Coleman’s violin plays high-pitched, high-frequency notes over a wah-wah injected, sustained bass growl on Coleman’s version of jazz fusion on “Rock the Clock.” Other details: the melodic goodness of the themes of “Civilization Day” (like the sun breaking through the smog) and “Law Years” (the ‘happiest’ song on the album); the bass playing throughout the album, but especially on those two songs and the dizzying intervals on “Street Woman”; no, seriously, Charlie Haden is the MVP here; the drumming of “Civilization Day,” from slashing away at the cymbals to full-on attacking them with hammers in the climax.

Great album. If Skies of America (released that same year) painted a picture of the turbulent skies of a Vietnam-war era America, than Science Fiction paints of a picture of America’s future. Which, in Coleman’s head, is just as turbulent.

A-

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