It seems entirely fitting that "Seductive Fantasy," the single from the Sun Ra Arkestra's first studio album in twenty years, should be a reworking of an old song, one that dates back over forty years to On Jupiter
(El Saturn, 1979). With Sun Ra it was ever thus; old is new and new is old. The original "Seductive Fantasy" was a sprawling, seventeen-minute affair that morphed from loose groove and extended soloing into increasingly abstract, and almost arrhythmic terrain. Significantly shorter at just under eleven minutes, the new version is more consistent in structure, and more of a psychedelic trip.
Baritone saxophonist Danny Ray Thompson
and bassist Tyler Mitchell
's three-note unison motif exerts a hypnotic groove that never lets up. A rich chorus of Duke Ellington
-esque horns, percolating percussion, piano glissandi and sci-fi effects underpin a succession of solos. Alto saxophonistand Arkestra leaderMarshall Allen
squeals ecstatically over gloriously riffing horns. Vincent Chancey
pursues a more melodious course on French horn, while pianist Farid Barron
unleashes a torrent of tumbling lines, flitting between bluesy elegance and angularity. The spacey soundscape swells as Allen's EVI and guitarist Dave Hotep
's pedals effects come increasingly to the fore.
Vocalist Tara Middleton
brings an additional layer of ethereality to the mix with her rap on vibrations and colors, before leading a typical Arkestra call and response. "Oh, the vibration is just a little different here," she intones. Different from 1979 certainly, but wonderfully uplifting all the same. Since this recording, sadly, Danny Ray Thompsonan Arkestra stalwart since 1967and conguero Atakatune Stanley Morgan
, have left this planet. Their vibrations, however, carry on. An alternative, four- minute version of "Seductive Fantasy" features a brilliant, trippy animation by Chad VanGaalen that will delight old heads. The Sun Ra Arkestra marches proudly on.
Marshall Allen: EVI (electronic valve Instrument); Knoel Scott: vocals; James Stewart: flute; Danny Ray Thompson:
Michael Ray: vocals; Tara Middleton: violin; Nelson Nascimento: Brazilian surdo drum.