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Music / The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra

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The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra is a 1961 album recorded by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. It was the group's first album after moving from Chicago to New York City, and was produced by Tom Wilson, who would later work with rock artists like Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Zappa, and The Velvet Underground. It is considered one of Ra's more accessible works, perhaps a gateway album.

Tracklist

Side One

  1. "Bassism" (4:07)
  2. "Of Sounds and Something Else" (2:54)
  3. "What's That?" (2:15)
  4. "Where is Tomorrow?" (2:50)
  5. "The Beginning" (6:29)
  6. "China Gate" (3:25)

Side B

  1. "New Day" (5:51)
  2. "Tapestry from an Asteroid" (3:02)
  3. "Jet Flight" (3:15)
  4. "Looking Outward" (2:49)
  5. "Space Jazz Reverie" (4:54)

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Of Tropes and Something Else:

  • Concept Album: Despite being mostly instrumental, the exotic numbers speak of space and an unknown future.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The cover, by an artist known only as “Harvey”, depicts a drum rising over what looks like an ocean of piano keys.
  • Echoing Acoustics: Has more reverb than you might expect on a jazz album.
  • Epic Rocking: "The Beginning" is 6½ minutes long. At 5:51, "New Day" comes within nine seconds of qualifying.
  • Instrumental: Only “China Gate” has vocals.
  • One-Word Title: "Bassism".
  • Pun-Based Title: “Bassism”, rhymes with “racism”.
  • Questioning Title?: “What’s That?” and “Where is Tomorrow?”
  • Record Producer: Tom Wilson.
  • Space Rock: Jazz, but a forerunner of the genre. Most of the numbers bear titles having to do with space or flight.
  • Surrealism: The cover looks like it bears a certain Salvador Dalí influence. The music somehow feels surreal and dreamlike as well.
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