Sun Ra

Space Probe

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Space Probe dates from 1969-1970, and is a bit of an odd album. "Primitive" starts things out; basically it's a percussion piece featuring James Jacson's log drum and lots of hand percussion. There's just a bit of what sounds like bass clarinet at the beginning, but it doesn't last long. "Conversion of J.P." is a less cacophonous, percussion-oriented piece, highlighted at the beginning by the flute playing of Marshall Allen. Then Ra's piano enters about eight minutes in and takes the tune in a very different direction with the same percussion backing. Ra's playing here is fascinating, though not at all flashy. "Space Probe" is a side-long tour de force by Ra on the miniMoog, and he amply demonstrates that nobody handles a Moog quite like Sun Ra. It could be the sound effects to a '50s sci-fi flick, no problem, or a demonstration of how weird the miniMoog can get. It ain't easy listening, but it's pretty stunning all the same for those with adventurous ears.

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