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Alice Coltrane - Universal Consciousness (1972)

01. Universal Consciousness
02. Battle at Armageddon
03. Oh Allah
04. Hare Krishna
05. Sita Ram
06. The Ankh of Amen-Ra


Her previous album, Journey In Satchidananda, was recorded when Alice Coltrane was basking in the "Universal Love or God in action" via Swami Satchidananda in anticipation of her upcoming journey to India, and Universal Consciousness was what she recorded when she returned. While Journey is an excellent album, you can still feel it held down by the bluesy heaviness of Earth. I can't begin to imagine what kinds of spiritual revelations she encountered with the Swami in India, but the dramatic blossoming found in Universal Consciousness gives us a peek. It's a decadent sound illustration of stepping though a prophetic looking glass, and shows us what Alice found there (couldn't resist). At its deepest foundation the album is still based on modal blues, but something's been unlocked - it's freer and more avant-garde, while also more meditative and hallucinogenic. Shrill but gorgeous swooping string arrangements weave into ringing harp, bitter tones of electric organ, playful drums and bass, and transcendental drones. It's like thousands of years of Hindu mythology descending upon a soulful American jazz den lined with melting velvet walls of rich, fatty colors. It's not often that you're tempted to use words like "glissandi", "crescendo", "staccato" and "raga" to describe a jazz album, but there you go. Sit in rapt awe - you don't have to believe a word of the liner notes, just believe devoutly in Alice's creative vision.

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