To Sun Ra With Love

The Hinds brothers make art about -- and inspired by -- Saturn's most influential musician

"I think we share a common bond with him as far as improvisation," says John. "Our harmonies and rhythms -- you can pull out elements that sound like [the Sun Ra Arkestra], too."

"But it's been so absorbed with all this other stuff," adds Peter, "like Stockhausen, Miles Davis, and dub reggae."

For the tracks, Peter lays down the rhythmic structure and bass, and John adds bass clarinet, piano, percussion, and keyboards. The duo tries to wed the careful studio craft of dance music with Ra's loose spontaneity. "Just like the jazz guys, you practice and you do all this stuff," John explains, "but then you push yourself off the cliff as far as possible."

The brothers' latest album, Dubmixer, released on their own Omni Sonic label, finds them exploring Jamaican reggae more than ever, taking specific tunes and reworking them to dramatic effect. On "Filter Factor" John's piano thumping takes center stage amid wild minor-key chord stabs, while on "Filter Factor Dub" his keys lurk further beneath the beats. Elsewhere, the twosome acknowledges Ra's penchant for mixing genres: "Phaser" weds a dramatic whirlwind of strings straight from an Indian Bollywood film to a low-toned bass line, and "Immersion Excursion" marries rapid-fire drum 'n' bass beats to fuzzy radio interference.

It's clear the Hinds brothers don't like musical stasis, and plan to explore other styles and elements for their next album, intended for a later summer release.

As for the pair's obsession with Sun Ra, John says, "I would never have hoped for this in my life because I'd be so disappointed, because you can't go through life hoping you're gonna meet a father figure, mentor, friend. If I had to pick one musician to know in this world ever, [he] would be the one. And it turned out. It's just unreal!"

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