Within their 1973 European tour, Sun Ra and his Arkestra had just completed a residency at the legendary Gibus in Paris in October before travelling to Amiens for a Sunday afternoon concert. Those filing into the city’s Maison de la Culture that day would have little idea of the intense, visceral experience that awaited them. “Sun Ra’s use of the Arkestra as his instrument in an onslaught of sound, colour and movement stimulated and even shocked the senses and the shakras of audience participants onto a higher plane of spirit consciousness,“ explains the Arkestra’s Knoel Scott.
On Side 1, the session kicks off with the theatrical overture, ’Enlightenment’ as Sun Ra and vocalist June Tyson invite the audience to “be of our space world“. Ra then moves into a rare instrumental version of ’Love In Outer Space’, transforming the perennial Arkestra classic into a raw, ritualistic experience: “this was a vehicle for the Arkestra’s space dancers. Close your eyes and imagine them writhing across the stage in celestial homage,“ explains Scott.
On Side 2 of the album opens with the glistening ’Lights On A Satellite’, a feature for the spiritual tenor sax of John Gilmore, playing in unison with trumpeter Kwame Hadi. Closing track, the epic, chaotic, anxious ’Discipline 27-II / What Planet Is This’ moves from abstract, freeform keyboard work from Sun Ra to a walking groove as Sun Ra and June Tyson take a thinly veiled psychedelic swipe at life on earth: “If this is a planet of life, why do people die here? “
Following 2014’s landmark compilation presented by Marshall Allen, ’In the Orbit Of Ra’, Strut and Art Yard join forces once more for the first release anywhere of ’Planets Of Life Or Death’. Recorded direct from the soundboard and mastered from first generation reel to reel, the title is exclusively available for Record Store Day 2015. The release features rare photos from Sun Ra’s 1973 European tour by photographer Jan Persson with sleeve notes by Knoel Scott.