Germantown sonic transplant Sun Ra may have shuffled off the planet in 1993 at age 79, but, in his stead, Marshall Allen has led his merry men, the Arkestra, through thick, thin, what seems like a thousand live shows, and a bushel full of archival releases ever since. What they have only done once – last time being 1999 and for “A Song for the Sun” – is record anew. That is, until now.
Due for release in October, a not-yet-untitled new Arkestra album will be released on the Strut label. Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia with engineer, producer, percussionist and mixer Jim Hamilton and longtime Arkestra leader Marshall Allen, the new effort features one older track that we know of: “Seductive Fantasy,” an original Ra composition initially recorded for 1979’s “On Jupiter.”
A video of the new version of “Seductive Fantasy” was released last night.
While the animated video by Chad VanGaalen is psychedelic and touches on countless visual tropes related to all things Ra – gilded robes, floppy hats, including an image of Sun himself – the music is Allen and the Arkestra’s usual, all slow, hyperactive African percussion, woozy reeds and brass, oddball time signatures, and a preoccupation with big band brio, from a down-and-dirty New Orleans vibe to Duke Ellington’s Harlem Nocturne fantasia.
Along with the reissue of 1974’s film, “Space Is the Place,” documentaries like “Brother from Another Planet,” and local director Ephraim Asili’s “Points on a Space Age,” recent performances such as an Earth Day celebration, and archival albums such as “Haverford College 1980 Solo Piano” have all become freshly mined rings of Sun Ra’s new Saturn.