August 25, 2013

Sun Ra Sunday

Sun Ra: Disco 3000 (Saturn/Art Yard CD)

Although The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (recorded at The Teatro Cilak in Milan, Italy) contains all of the music found on the original LP, Art Yard also released Disco 3000 (CD 101) as a straight reissue (with alternative artwork) in 2009. I’m glad they did because it is a classic—and very strange—Sun Ra album that deserves to be heard in its original form. Moreover, listening to the entire two-hour concert is a considerable time commitment, which, in some ways, dilutes the impact of the original Disco 3000 LP in my opinion.

The first side consists of the twenty-six minute title track while side two contains “Third Planet,” “Friendly Galaxy” and “Dance of the Cosmo Aliens.” While you can my descriptions on my review of The Complete Disco 3000 Concert, what is interesting to me is how much more effective “Dance of the Cosmo Aliens” is when it is shorn from its original context, the twisted electronica bookending the album with “Disco 3000.” Or maybe my ears got tired by the time it was played, over an hour into the original concert. Hardcore fans will want both, but Disco 3000 is essential.

In typically Saturnal fashion, Michael Ray’s liner notes (penned in 2007 and contained on both Art Yard CDs) are both enlightening and confusing. “It was here,” he says, “that most of my early dues were paid.”
Sun Ra would tell me “You playing your horn alright but try my way, unless you have some sort of mental block.” “Play that apple. Remember it is round so think of 360 degrees of sound and color. It’s red which means its energy deals with the first chakra, you have to be able to play the vibration.” We rehearsed like this from early in the morning to late at night for days. It was like having someone erase your mainframe and reboot your hard drive! Sunny always said expect the unexpected. “We might have a gig on Mars one day so you got to be swinging on your horn, because they don’t party like earthlings” 
Elsewhere, he writes:
The Winter of ’78, I headed to Rome not knowing what to expect…Sun Ra would get up every day at dawn. We would then drive over to Media Dreams, a small studio run by Andreas and Alfie, very good friends of the band. Andreas was credited with the development of the Walkman, which he sold to Sony Company.
Huh? “Andreas” is presumably Andreas Pavel, inventor of a proto-Walkman, which was (according to Wikipedia) patented in Italy in 1977. So, it is certainly possible that he was in Rome in January of 1978—but, as far as I can tell, he had nothing to do with the Horo Records label or the “Horo Voice Studio,” where New Steps and Other Voices, Other Blues were (presumably) recorded (see Campbell & Trent pp.243-246). Ray makes no mention of Horo—is he referring to those albums or were there other studio recordings made in Italy in January 1978? If so, where are they? I'm "friends" with Michael Ray on Facebook; maybe I should ask him...

No comments: