Sun Ra

The Solar-Myth Approach, Vols. 1-2

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These two discs from Sun Ra and his Solar Myth Arkestra are not, as their title suggests, parts of a singular or continuous work. They were initially issued as two separate titles -- similar to the two-part Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra -- by the Belgian BYG Actuel label in 1971. Both volumes consist of mid-fidelity and primarily self-realized and -produced recordings. Despite the claim that these sides were taped in New York City at Sun Studios, Ra discographer Robert L. Campbell notes that by the time these tracks were documented, the Arkestra had ended its N.Y.C. residency and returned to Philadelphia. Although this collection may not be the highest priority for potential converts or the uninitiated, there is a tremendous spectrum of sounds from Ra and the Arkestra on these discs. Volume One ranges from the atonal sparseness of the keyboard solo "Seen III Took 4" to the equally intimate ensemble work of "Adventures of Bugs Hunter" -- which in true Ra fashion doesn't even feature the musician. There are also more percussive works such as "Realm of Lightning" -- whose lead instrument sounds like newspaper being struck with pencils. This is augmented with a percussive onslaught featuring several distinct waves of rapid and emphatic timbale-style solos. The performances on Volume Two contain a noticeably heavier and more aggressive sound from the Arkestra. "The Utter Nots" is a classic example of many early-'70s arrangements, which were becoming almost ridiculously arithmetical. The extended work features some inspired and nimble fretwork from Ronnie Boykins (acoustic bass). Also of note are early renderings of "Outer Spaceways, Inc." and "The Satellites Are Spinning." These vocal tracks would be reworked and recycled into Ra's groundbreaking film Space Is the Place. [In 2001, after some years in obscurity, The Solar Myth Approach, Vol 1-2 was issued as a two-CD set for the first time in the domestic U.S.]

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