Some may come into Louis Siciliano’s Ancient Cosmic Truth sneering that it’s the epitome of pretentiousness. They won’t feel that way for long. It is a credit to his immense compositional talents and the stunning musical ability of the individuals involved. There’s a surprising abundance of melodies scattered over the course of Ancient Cosmic Truth’s four songs, but there’s likewise a plethora of ideas on display as well. Combining the intellectual and musical isn’t easy; countless examples litter musical history of musicians, composers, and performers who attempted such a jump and failed. Siciliano makes it sound easy. Much of this, if not all, is due to the certainty of his musical vision. Siciliano’s writing makes it clear that he has a firm idea from the beginning of where he wants to go and how to get there. The music on Ancient Cosmic Truth invites us to come along with him and his compatriots.

“Bambara’s Symmetries” sends listeners into Siciliano’s world with flair. The flair, however, never precludes genuine musical value and Siciliano’s penchant for melodies that hook into the mind is clear. The leading instruments on the EP are Alex Acuna’s percussion, Claudio Romano’s drums, and Siciliano’s synthesizer. The contributions from trumpet player Randy Brecker and his counterpart tenor saxophonist Umberto Muselli are deeply musical pieces of the puzzle. Each of the four songs, however, spotlights varying players.

There’s an almost soundtrack quality to Siciliano’s music and that isn’t a slight. It has an intense visual component reaching far beyond typical efforts in this vein. “Translucent Dodecahedron” continues this and even goes a step further. Many listeners will find this to be the most explosive musical moment on Ancient Cosmic Truth, a blast of musical inspiration with a contagious melodic snap. The title may be inaccessible to many listeners and leave them scratching their heads, but they shouldn’t concern themselves. The underlying ideas are Siciliano’s own. The important thing is the final result and, in this instance, it’s one of the most effective moments you’ll hear on this EP.

“The Secret of Mansa” goes in a different direction. Siciliano and his fellow musicians pull back on the reins, so to speak, It has a much more gentle line of attack than its predecessors without ever sounding out of place with the EP’s three other performances. One of the glaring differences between earlier and later performances is the increased presence of the brass players, Muselli and Brecker, and successfully incorporates their playing. Melody remains stalwart. These are not pop melodies, however.

There’s certainly nothing poppy about the EP’s conclusion. Ancient Cosmic Truth’s title song features a chorus of voices orchestrated into the composition’s larger framework without ever taking it far afield of the EP’s core sound. This is the Ancient Cosmic Truth band in full effect, with each of the instrumentalists standing out, and all the components working towards an overall goal. It is the last and perhaps most supreme example of the ambitious agenda Siciliano sets for himself on this powerful release.

Garth Thomas