Review

SUN RA Atlantis

Album · 1969 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
js
This record is probably the most avant-garde record by one of the most avant-garde artists to be identified with the world of jazz. ‘Atlantis’ stands alone like a monolithic Stonehenge document of one man’s musical vision that will take an eternity to ponder and learn from. Almost any Sun Ra record is going to be powerful and unique in its bold uncompromising vision, but on this one Ra takes us even one step further into his personal musical universe.

Side one starts with simple, almost child like, major key melodies on the sax and clavinet backed by African poly-rhythms on hand drums. As this continues, Sun Ra’s bizarre humor and musical mischievousness kicks in and the clavinet wanders and wobbles into sea-sick patterns that sound like the local late-night hotel easy-listening pianist trying to play just enough so that he will not nod out. The end result sounds like lounge music from the pre-historic era. There is a strong African element here, but also a lot of bizarre humor as well. This side ends with the percussionists working out on thick African multi-rhythms with such a vague and imprecise recorded sound that everything blends together, just as it would if you were in the field in Africa.

Side one was quiet and relaxed, but side two has little of that. Two opens with an ominous repeating tone from Ra’s organ that sounds like the typical warning signal from a cheap 60s science fiction movie, (danger, aliens approaching). Slowly Ra brings in more organ voices and distorted clavinet until we are given a furious polytonal assault that sounds like two or three keyboard players, not one. Sun Ra’s high speed contrapuntal lines sound like Bach on angry trailer park meth mixed with high speed videos of ant colony activity. This is a musical technique we’ve heard from Ra before, but what comes next is not. After a brief quiet break, Ra begins to play a string like sound on the organ in a style somewhere in between early 20th century composers and experimental psychedelic prog-rock keyboardists. The harmonies are not quite atonal, but stretched to the max and the end result sounds like a cross between Scriabin and early Tangerine Dream. Eventually the orchestra comes in with slow mournful melodies that sound like an old jazz record mistakenly playing at 16 rpms and Ra closes with more held tones on the keyboard.

To say this record isn’t for everyone is the understatement of the year. I think a lot of people would find this record to be annoying and unpleasant. I don’t listen to this very often, its not an easy ride, but whenever I do I am always in awe of what an uncompromising masterpiece Sun Ra put together here.
Share this review

Review Comments

Post a public comment below | Send private message to the reviewer
Please login to post a shout
Matt wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I think I will like it. Great review John

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
Giant Steps Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Joan Chamorro presenta Èlia Bastida Hard Bop
JOAN CHAMORRO
Buy this album from MMA partners
Putting Off Death Pop Jazz/Crossover
CHEER-ACCIDENT
Buy this album from MMA partners
Mike Caratti / Rachel Musson / Steve Beresford ‎: Hesitantly Pleasant Jazz Related Improv/Composition
MICHAEL CARATTI
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Free Jazz MP3 download/stream

New Jazz Online Videos

Gerardo Nu´n~ez Trio Guitarra Flamenco GUITFESTSEVILLA 2013
GERARDO NÚÑEZ
js· more than 2 years ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Share this site
Follow us