Blurring the lines between Sun Ra's avant jazz and Merzbow's approach to noise, these pieces are based on rare and unreleased tracks authorized by the Sun Ra archive, worked into compositions that morph and micro-inspect each track into something unique and outer-worldly.
Sun Ra / Merzbow
Label: Cold Spring Records
Released in: UK
"Officially licensed from Irwin Chusid of the Sun Ra estate, Cold Spring's Justin Mitchell negotiated rare and unreleased tracks from the Sun Ra archive to be remixed and treated by Masami Akita (Merzbow). The tracks incorporate the jazz power of Sun Ra, carried into brutal excess by the legendary Japanese artist Merzbow."-Cold Spring
"Sun Ra's presence on the latest Merzbow record is odd: blink and you might miss him completely, but squint and you can notice him almost everywhere. The only time it's blatantly obvious that Masami Akita, the man behind noise legend Merzbow, is using Sun Ra's recordings as source material comes in the first 10 seconds of Strange City. Opener "Livid Sun Loop" begins with overlapping saxophones and drums, but Akita quickly steamrolls those into a dense cacophony. For the rest of the album's 103 minutes (66 on CD and 36 on LP, both titled Strange City but containing different music), he steadfastly maintains that busy din.
Yet focus your ears intensely on Strange City-preferably through headphones-and Sun Ra's music peeks out through Merzbow's noise wall. (The Ra estate gave Akita material from 1966's The Magic City and 1967's Strange Strings, which he remixed and treated while adding his own original sounds). Rattling drumbeats grow out of crackling static like weeds in a garden, bassy rhythms undulate beneath rolling roars like shifting tectonic plates, and pretty much every screech and squeal could pass for a wailing horn. Strange City is decisively a Merzbow record, but Sun Ra lives in its DNA.
Where Strange City stands in Merzbow's massive discography is easier to suss out. Many of the strengths Akita has developed over roughly four decades of noise devotion are put to use here. He creates relentlessly forward-moving music with so much going on that it feels three-dimensional. During such lengthy tracks, your ears and brain accept and acclimate to Akita's ruthless sounds, and his seemingly random noise eventually starts to feel normal.
Strange City is most successful on the two half-hour-plus tracks that make up the CD version. "Livid Sun Loop" is filled with destructive sounds and stabbing rhythms, but it also has a narrative arc developed through 32 minutes of sonic drilling. On "Granular Jazz Part 2," Akita grapples most seriously with Sun Ra's creative spirit. Devoted primarily to the trebly end of the spectrum, the piece subtly rides Ra's rhythms while building a space-bound aura, a fitting way to grapple with an artist who claimed to come from Saturn. [...]
You could call Strange City a Merzbow victory, but it couldn't have happened without Sun Ra on his team."-Marc MastersAlso available on vinyl LP.
• Show Bio for Sun Ra
"Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 - May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, "cosmic philosophy", prolific output, and theatrical performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979. For much of his career, Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.
Born and raised in Alabama, Blount would eventually become involved in the 1940s Chicago jazz scene. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun) and developing a complex persona and mythology that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism: he claimed he was an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he consistently denied any ties to his prior identity. His widely eclectic and exploratory music would eventually touch on virtually the entire history of jazz, ranging from swing music and bebop to free jazz and fusion, and his compositions ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the space age.
Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century. Following Sun Ra's death in 1993, the Arkestra continues to perform."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Ra)
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• Show Bio for Masami Akita (Merzbow)
"Masami Akita (秋田 昌美 Akita Masami?, born December 19, 1956), better known by his stage name Merzbow (メルツバウ Merutsubau?), is a Japanese noise musician. Since 1980, he has released over 400 recordings.
The name Merzbow comes from the German dada artist Kurt Schwitters' artwork Merzbau (German pronunciation: [ˈmɛʁtsˌbaʊ̯]), in which Schwitters transformed the interior of his house using found objects. The name was chosen to reflect Akita's dada influence and junk art aesthetic. In addition to this, Akita has cited a wide range of musical influences from progressive rock, heavy metal, free jazz, and early electronic music to non-musical influences like dadaism, surrealism, and fetish culture. Since the early 2000s, he has been inspired by animal rights and environmentalism, and has become a vegan.
As well as being a prolific musician, he has been a writer and editor for several books and magazines in Japan, and has written several books of his own. He has written about a variety of subjects, mostly about music, modern art, and underground culture. His more renowned works were on the topics of BDSM and Japanese bondage. Other art forms Akita has been interested in include painting, photography, filmmaking, and Butoh dance.
In 2000, Extreme Records released the 50 CD box set known as the Merzbox. Akita's work has been the subject of several remix albums and at least one tribute album. This, among other achievements, has helped Merzbow to be regarded by some as the "most important artist in noise"."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merzbow)
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Label: Cold Spring Records
Catalog ID: CSR 228CD
Squidco Product Code: 23058
Recorded at Munemihouse, in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2016, by Masami Akita.
Sun Ra-composer, performer
Masami Akita (Merzbow)-remixer
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1. Livid Sun Loop 32:11
2. Granular Jazz Part 2 34:03