SPECIAL SPECIAL: Sun Ra (including playlist!)

I can feel who I am
I do not disguise myself to me..
why should I ?
I have known me longer than anyone else.
— Sun Ra

With S P A C E as our monthly theme, who better to feature here on the blog than special special American composer/band leader/synth wizard/poet/philosopher/pianist and space traveller (to inner, and outer space), Herman Poole Blount, better known as Sun Ra!

Sun Ra

Sun Ra

Sun Ra was a true innovator, a pioneer of afro-futurism and a committed creator of a world of style and imagery inspired by futuristic ideas and ancient Egyptian attire. The persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun) was an alien from Saturn with a complex mythology that he took on early in his life and kept living as, consistently denying his former identity.

Throughout his musical career, that started with the jazz-scene of Chicago in the 1940s he released 1000s of recordings (125 LP catalogue!) in various jazz genres ranging from rag-time, free jazz and modal jazz, as well as genres not yet imagined with wild sound effects and early synth experimentation.  

Taking us for a space ride: Still from the film Space is the Place (John Coney, 1974)

Taking us for a space ride: Still from the film Space is the Place (John Coney, 1974)

I first found Sun Ra through the excellent album Angels and Demons at play and over the years have been intrigued to explore more and more of his big range of output. He is a big favourite with Jimi Tenor and many other electronic music heroes of mine, including Four Tet, Flying Lotus and Caribou, being a classic source for sampling of snippets of spacey synth outbursts and other un-heard sound waves. 

New to Ra?

I find the perfect introduction to his sound is the compilation To Those of Earth...and Other Worlds, compiled by Gilles Peterson and released by Strut in 2015. Here's a clip of Gilles talking about his own discovery of Sun Ra: 

In a Sun Ra kind of mood? 

Check out this TOP 10: Sun Ra playlist on Spotify!