Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Exotica - Sun Ra

In 'Exotica. Fabricated soundscapes in a real world', author David Toop compares Les Baxter and Sun Ra:

"As a striking illustration of the link between these two mavericks of American music, compare Baxter's 'Brazilian Bash', released in 1956 on Skins! A Bongo Party with Les Baxter, with Sun Ra recordings from the late fifties and early sixties. Tracks such as 'Solar Drums', 'Friendly Galaxy' and 'Angels and Demons at Play' feature a similar blend of exoticas: either echo-saturated Asian percussion meditations or Afro-Latin rhythms, mysterious flute melodies and glistening keyboard ostinatos. Even their song titles seem to be borrowed from each other's exotic aesthetics: Baxter recording 'Saturday Night on Saturn' and 'Blue Jungle', Sun Ra recording 'Space Mates', 'Kosmos in Blue', 'Tiny Pyramids' and 'Watusa'.

For both Ra and Baxter, the exoticisms were a part of a broader picture. Sound, particularly electronically generated or mutated sound, was a highly evocative medium for depicting vivid unknown worlds, utopias implied by America's postwar Tupper-conservatism of the suburbs and racial division. Though there were some small similarities in their aims and methods, the real world in which they lived and worked divided them so totally, they may as well have been creatures from two different planets. While Sun Ra was defining a New World Afrocentric identity, Baxter confirmed the imperialist fantasies of the old world, now engaged in tourist escapades as well as military expeditions."

No comments: