Sextant, the first record Hancock cut for his new label Columbia Records, was considered a commercial flop upon its release in 1973. The record showcased Hancock’s early adoption of synthesizers and electronic otherworldly effects, utilizing a kind of post-modal, free impressionism while gracing the edges of funk. ‘Success’ or not, the album most likely didn’t connect with a wider audience because it was so far ahead of its time and too out there for a mainstream audience. Paste magazine hailed it as an “uncompromising avant-funk mysterious masterpiece” and many would agree as the record has only continued to gain accolades over the years for its stylistic risks and has become a favorite for many Hancock fans. Keep in mind that the early 70’s were a very experimental, drug-fueled era in the history of music, and the music on Sextant was no exception to the sonic jazz fusion rock revolution that was going on at the time. As Hancock said himself about the record, “We got lost in a work that brings to mind hypnotic, psychedelic imagery akin to stuff depicted on the cover like tribal people’s dancing in the desert amidst psychedelic visions of deities, spacecraft and and aquatic stuff on “Rain Dance” before being taken to the surface of the moon or a barren, atmosphere-less alien planet on “Hidden Shadows” before getting down while still in our psychedelic space on Hornets.” Far out man!
– Michael Friedman
Recommended – Full Listen
Tags: Avant-Garde / Cosmic / Deep Listening / Experimental / Funk / Synth