In a world of 24-hour news cycles, keynote speeches, new gadgets replacing those from six months ago … dire warnings of melting ice sheets, starving people, the end of energy and food and wildlife … it’s easy to lose site of optimism about the future.
Yet there are those sounds that can be futuristic and radical in a way that doesn’t fade.
Sun Ra’s records and performances sound as revolutionary today as ever, even though last week the artist would have been one hundred years old. This is a futurism unlimited and un-aging – like space itself. I imagine it can still challenge us to explore strange new sound worlds, seek out new life and build a new civilization, because space is the place.
And in the hands of Sun Ra advocate (and fellow Philadelphian musician) King Britt, Sun Ra grooves for the year 2014. In addition to live performances celebrating the centennial last week, King served up this terrific mix, and writes:
He would be 100 years old. Herman Poole Blount, aka Sun Ra, Ambassador to the Emperor of the Omniverse, assumed his mystical jet-set identity in 1950s Chicago and took it worldwide with his band the Arkestra. Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery and Dark Matter Coffee jointly celebrate the power, majesty, humor and mystery of Mr. Ra with Astro-Black, a centennial blend certified for intergalactic travel, for folks with avant-garde taste.
Channeling his extrasensory perception, King Britt created The Fholston Paradigm Live Transmission Mix, a displaced re-interpretation of Ra’s Space is the Place. The transmission was discovered on a frequency, that someone in Philadelphia picked up, while using a cb. The mantra swims in and out of existence with the various movements of this sonic palette, creating a juxtaposition of genres and emotions. Not sure what sector of the universe it is coming from, but the message is clear, Space is the Place.
For more on the master from another planet, here’s the 1980 documentary “A Joyful Noise”:
Via Philly’s The Key.
NPR had a great look back last week, too.