Sonboy

BARAKA (LEROI JONES) & THE SUN RA MYTH-SCIENCE ARKESTRA, AMIRI - A Black Mass

Repress, originally released in 2000. Surprise reissue of the most infamous and difficult to procure Sun Ra artifact; originally issued on Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones)s Jihad label (home of the original Sunnys Time Now by Sunny Murray as well). This is the first release on the DC-based Sonboy label officially sanctioned by Baraka (and mastered from the original tapes that have been sitting in his basement all along). Other unreleased sessions from the Jihad library of tapes are still rumored to follow this release. Originally issued in 1968, A Black Mass was personally distributed by Baraka via a network of radical Black literature bookstores and was not commonly found in the channels that records of the time moved in. As a result, it has enjoyed a mystical status for the better part of its 30+ year existence, and many hard-core Ra completists have never seen a copy. A strange and revolutionary play by Baraka, with musical interludes by the Myth-Science Orchestra. Very, very historic. The play A Black Mass was written in Harlem in 1965, much of it probably at my desk at The Black Arts Repertory Theater School at West 130th Street and Lenox (now Malcolm X. Blvd.). It was first performed at the RKO Proctors Theater, Newark as a companion piece to J-E-L-L-O, a satire on the Jack Benny show where Rochester turns militant. The reason it was Newark is because late in 1965, I decided to walk away from the BARTS because with the mounting internal strife, the phenomenon of diminishing returns had set in so disruptively that the vision of bringing Black Art into the community and creating what we were later to understand as Cultural Revolution could no longer succeed at that venue. Black Mass shows the heavy influence of the Nation of Islam even though, after Malcolms murder, I became alienated from that Nation, essentially as a means of registering my allegiance to Malcolm. Even the Jacoub story I had gotten from Malcolm when he was still more directly motivated by Elijah Muhammads teachings. Sun Ra was one of the most consistent and supportive artists associated with the BARTS. He was there several days a week, teaching all who would listen. At any rate, when I conceived of doing Black Mass to music, Ra was the only musician in my mind. Not just because of the otherworldliness of the tale, but the sensuous outness I knew Ra, with his Myth-Science Arkestra, would bring, which I felt would give a material life to the text. The work was recorded in The Spirit House, on the first floor theater we had created by tearing down the walls of my rented one-family house, just as we had done at The Black Arts. With Sylvia Robinson (Amina Baraka, a Newark artist who would shortly become my wife), Yusef Iman (a BARTS original), Newarks Marvin Camillo (he and Yusef are both gone now), and Barry Wynn (Amun Ankra), we tried to recreate the staged version which we had just done. And while there is something to be desired in our collaboration, the recording stands not only as a record of what The Black Arts was doing, but points I think into the future of the spoken word and the possibility of expanding what can be recorded and what kind of collaboration between word and music can come. The theme The Satellites Are Spinning is the dramatic musical mise-en-scène throughout, though close listeners will hear some of the music which characterized the Myth-Science Arkestra rising and falling through the mainly improvised music-drama. In total, the music is rich and evocative by itself. Heard with the text of The Black Mass, both connect and extend each other with a dramatic gestalt of Myth-Science music and the mythologized history deepens our emotional perception of what is being told. For me, re-heard with the benefit of study and another kind of thoughtfulness, it even projects a rationale thats more scientifically based, search-lighting some evasive facts of human history as well as projecting the premise which I have long held, that art is creation, and that we must oppose the creation of what does not need to be created." -Amiri Baraka, 9/6/99

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After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.

This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).

Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.

Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.

Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.



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