Thursday, December 08, 2005

Out There A Minute

Out There A Minute
7" single (b/w Glenn Branca - 'Third Movement')
Blast First records
Released 1989

I listened to this single for the first time in ages this week, and it's blown me away. It's the entire history of US avant-garde music on a 45. This is not what you expect. US indie labels with a penchant for noisy guitar music rarely if ever release works by leading figures in free jazz (it's like Stock, Aitken and Waterman releasing a record by Albert Ayler). I'm not sure why I bought this record - perhaps it was the connection with Sonic Youth, who were on Blast First at the time, perhaps it was the sleeve with it's reproduction of the First Vorticist Manifesto. I'm not sure if i'd even heard of Sun Ra at the time.

I didn't know it then, but Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore was very keen on all sorts of improvised music and was making some initial forays into playing in an improvised manner himself, something he's continued up until this day (you can read more about that here). It was he who curated 'Out There A Minute', a compilation album of obscure bits of 60s/70s Sun Ra from which this track is taken.

The music is typical Sun Ra - Ellington gone to outer-space big-band with demented piano accompaniment. The 'theme' (if you can call it that) is crazy - brief horn tune that repeats itself at such an odd interval that you think the record's skipping for the first couple of times you play it. This serves as a backdrop for soloing by Ra on piano and a crazy far-out tenor sax (maybe John Gilmore?).

The B-side is by US avant-noise composer Glenn Branca and is basically a symphony for feedback - not really jazz at all, but worthy of a listen. The name of the publisher of both tracks sums it all up - 'My Ears! My Ears!'

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