Sun Ra Arkestra and Tigran Hamasyan: My Albums of the Week #13

I would consider myself an “albums guy” and my taste in music is very varied. In this new feature, I list the albums that I listened to most intensely during the week. The list will include albums old and new, and the number of albums listened to every week will most likely vary on a week-to-week basis.


Sun Ra Arkestra
(Strut, 2020)

Tracklist (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Satellites Are Spinning/Lights on a Satellite / 2 – Seductive Fantasy / 3 – Swirling / 4 – Angels and Demons at Play / 5 – Sea of Darkness/Darkness / 6 – Rocket No. 9 / 7 – Astro Black / 8 – Infinity/I’ll Wait or You / 9 – Unmask the Batman / 10 – Sunology / 11 – Queer Notions / 12 – Space Loneliness / 13 – Door of the Cosmos/Say

The first Sun Ra Arkestra studio album in ages. A revisitation of familiar elements that have characterized the adventurous music of Sun Ra and, after the bandleader’s death, that of this ensemble, which has continued to spread his message up to today, under the direction of Marshall Allen. The saxophonist’s arrangements, almost 100 years old, are truly swirling as familiar compositions blend into each other and create new things.

Rather than a swang song, Swirling may just be the ultimate double-album for anybody looking for a starting point to enter the wonderful, eclectic, Afrofuturistic world of this fabled group and of Sun Ra himself.


Tigran Hamasyan
The Call Within
(Nonesuch, 2020)

Tracklist (favorite tracks underlined): 1 – Levitation 21 / 2 – Our Film / 3 – Ara Resurrected / 4 – At a Post-Historic Seashore / 5 – Space of Your Existence / 6 – The Dream Voyager / 7 – Old Maps / 8 – Vortex / 9 – 37 Newlyweds / 10 – New Maps

A powerful album and probably the best I’ve heard in 2020. Essentially, this is a fusion of jazz and the folk music tradition of Tigran Hamasyan’s native Armenia. However, there are a plethora of influences, ranging from ambient to thrash metal and beyond that elude easy categorization. Not to mention that the album as a whole has a cinematic narrative running through it and feels like a story that unfolds and is enriched by each track.

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