Ramases – Space Hymns (1000 albums to listen to before you die)

Joining a proud musical tradition of artists who believe themselves to be reincarnated Egyptian deities (including jazz luminaries Sun Ra and Pharaoh Sanders), Ramases has created, in Space Hymns, something that stands as a testament to both the mystical vision of one man, and a vibrant example of the demented “anything goes” mentality of early 70s rock music.

The opening track, “Life Child”, is a nothing short of fantastic: echoing flutes set a mystical, acid-drenched vibe, eventually resolving into a guitar riff and finding propulsion in a resounding bass synth part. Ramases’ vocal work is certainly competent, and the lyrics expound a bizarre religious message that adds to the esoteric novelty of the songs. “Oh Mister” sounds like a sing-along at a hippie commune, complete with frenzied tambourine-banging, whereas “Earth People” initially sounds like its being played backwards. Music obscurists might be interested to know that Ramases is backed up on these songs by Godley & Crème, who would later form the nucleus of plausible 70s pop-rock band 10cc.

Space Hymns is not a perfect album by any measure. Although at their best, Ramases and co. managed to create some towering, if unsteady, psych-rock classics, there are certainly times when the meandering weirdness of the record becomes less endearing and more puzzling. “You’re the Only One” is just annoying, consisting of nothing other than the four words of the title being repeated over and over again, and “Balloon” sounds like a failed Eurovision entry. Despite this, Space Hymns is an album that will reward the intrepid listener, offering as it does a unique aural experience. Ramases left the planet for good in the early 90s, committing suicide, but his colourful legacy continues to mystify and intrigue. Although you may not agree with philosophies that include such insights as “the rocket ship shape of churches probably dates back to Moses’ visit to speak to God on the mountain and what he saw there”, it is difficult not to get caught up in the enthusiasm with which they are expressed.

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