Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
This is a little more on the jazz side than what we typically see in the Garage, but it's definitely one of the more psychedelic offerings from that genre. Brother Ahh was an acolyte of the truly tripped-out Sun Ra (not tripped-out on any substances mind you, he was just gloriously nuts). Of course Sun Ra has no short supply of psychedelic obscurities, and we'll see a few of them here eventually. But before I get off on too much of a tangent, let's focus on the Brother in question. While this album probably doesn't touch the heights of Sun Ra's Arkestra at its best, Sound Awareness is far from a pale imitation.
The crux of this recording takes some of the percussive and echoing innovations from Sun Ra's best 60's albums such as Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy and Atlantis, and finds a few new mis-en-scenes to place them into. We hear some very exotica-style female vocals on "Beyond Yourself," which expands to a full 90-member chorus for "Love Piece." I'd say that this recording shows an evolution into classical, ambient, and fusion styles that the laser-focused Sun Ra typically didn't mess with. The sound is more nebulous, but no less appealing. Also, while the Arkestra's percussion ensembles are nothing to sneeze at, Brother Ahh brings in the big guns here with Max Roach and some of his drummers appearing as guests. The spoken piece of "Love Piece" is a fine rant mixing black power and religious imagery before shifting to call-and-response new age philosophy on the power of love.
Overall, this worthwhile album provides us with a worthwhile different flavor of the innovations made by Sun Ra and his cohorts. Fortunately, the albums holds up very well on its own, but as a contrast tool with the sound of the Arkestra, Sound Awareness is educationally invaluable.