When Jamal Moss walks around Chicago, he sometimes feels like Moondog. He cuts a commanding figure, like an industrial reimagining of the late cult jazz musician and flâneur. Today, like most days, he is dressed in a black hood and heavy boots, with purple cloth tied through his long locs. “I get that all the time,” he laughs with warm self-awareness. “People don’t say nothing usually but, every now and then, someone will come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re that cat in the neighbourhood,’ like I’m Moondog, or the Candyman. All the time, people look at me and think, ‘Who is that guy?’”
Moss is Hieroglyphic Being, a Black techno-punk whose music draws on Afrofuturism, jazz, esoteric mythology and his caustic sense of humour. He’s released music on labels like Soul Jazz Records, Ninja Tune and RVNG INTL, which have introduced him to wider audiences, but most of his vast discography is fiercely independent. From selling cassette tapes outside noise shows and acid techno raves in the late ’80s and early ’90s, to the dozens of albums and EPs on his own label, Mathematics Recordings (with its offshoot series of CDr releases on Music From Mathematics), a conservative estimate would put his true album count into triple figures.
In a normal year, it’s not unusual for him to release half a dozen albums of original solo music. This year has been far from normal, and despite being unable to tour and trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as best as any individual can, Moss has been on a tear; between the new year and now, he’s uploaded 18 album-length projects to his Bandcamp page. The second most recent, ‘THE DEEPEST MEMORIES OF MY OWN’, shows us where he’s at right now, and largely where he’s always been — fuzzy-yet-funky techno, with synapse-snapping rhythms and jazzy melodic undercurrents, noted as being “sourced from” a variety of analog formats, like mini-disc and VHS. It’s beautiful, too.
Bluntly, how has he managed to record and release so much music in a year of constant unrest? “I’ve always been a recluse, so I’m not going through the weird social detox of human connection that so many others are,” Moss says candidly. “I feel really bad for people under 35, who are trying to get more out of life and are being shut down. I’m pushing 50,” he laughs, “I’ve done the clubs already. Now, I can just sit here, go into the recesses of my mind and get endorphin boosts from my happier memories.”