DANCE OF THE COSMO-ALIENS
Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Saturn : 1978
Sun Ra, piano, organ, drum box, Crumar Mainman; Luqman Ali, drums.
“Be warned: Sun Ra is a prophet, and you mock or scoff at him at your peril.” -John Litweiler, The Freedom Principle
Chilly Jay Chill: We usually post more than one song, but we think this track deserves your undivided attention. We often find ourselves tempted to collect a lot of great stuff without actually spending the time to, you know, listen to it. But you’ll want to give this at least a few spins pronto.
Prof. Drew Le Drew: This track leaves me almost speechless. It’s… what? Minimalist breakbeat techno meets monster dub groove?
CJC: Pulp has a rather excellent song titled “Disco 2000.” But truly, Ra is running millennial circles around them with his Disco 3000 joint.
DLD: And he’s still about 50 years ahead of everybody else. In many ways, even today’s most cutting-edge music hasn’t caught up with this. Aphex Twin could’ve copped most of his ideas off this track and still come back for seconds. It’s… what? Afro-glitch trance exotica?
CJC: You can hear a serious minimalist influence — echoes of Terry Riley’s Rainbow in Curved Air in Ra’s hypnotic organ drones — but this is darker, more textured, laced with serious electronics. The rhythms are insanely forward-looking.
DLD: A lot of Ra nods to the past in fairly recognizable ways, but it’s hard to hear the jazz antecedants in “Cosmo-Aliens.” It’s there in the melody, I guess, but the overall tone and instrumentation are so otherworldly. It’s… what? Space-rock psychotronica?
CJC: I wonder if there’s some actual disco in the DNA of this track. Maybe Ra was inspired by some Giorgio Moroder and/or Kraftwerk and then took it to another dimension.
DLD: It wouldn’t sound out of place over at 20 Jazz Funk Greats. It’s… what? Avant-rock dance-blogtastical?
CJC: Yes. Love that site. It also harkens slightly to the recent Elaste - Slow Motion Disco compilation, which featured “Originals from the Cosmic Era.” Meaning Italian disco from the late 70s. Of course this Ra track is far more cosmic.
DLD: Interestingly, “Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens” was recorded live in Italy around that time. So who knows.
CJC: But let’s face it: Basically we’re just offering possible sign posts and entry points to the music. Wildly pointing our fingers in various directions hoping that one will help folks connect with this.
DLD: Just listen to the track. It’s… what? Eleven minutes of boop-bip jungle bop. It’ll tell you all you need to know.
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Waxophilic types may be interested to know that this album was somewhat recently reissued on high-grade vinyl, by Art Yard. See Honest Jon’s store for consumer possibilities. May be too late, though.
Re “Crumar Mainman,” who has on occasion been cited as an additional player on this disk (and on Media Dreams, which drawsÂ from the same concert): it is a synthesizer — a seemingly very rare synth — produced by the Crumar company. Looking atÂ synthmuseum.com, and other spots, it would appear possible that the instrument Ra used was in fact a Crumar Multiman, but we await further clarification in the comments, as possible.