Art Yard continues its reissue programme of selected titles from the vaults of Sun Ra’s El Saturn label with this intriguing offering. Comprising two radically different compositions first released in 1985, it’s now initially available in a limited run of 1000 vinyl copies.
Performed almost solo by Sun Ra (save the occasional selected percussion effects and bird calls) on an Atlanta theatre pipe organ, the haunting title track is every bit as dark, reflective and epic a lament as its title suggests. While Hiroshima very much feels like a standalone piece, Stars That Shine Darkly is equally fascinating, but for very different reasons. Recorded live in Montreux in November 1983 and featuring the Sun Ra All Stars who, besides Arkestra mainstays John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, also include the interstellar talents of Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and Lester Bowie, Stars That Shine Darkly catches the ensemble in heavyweight improvisatory mood.
Part revelatory listening experience, part hair-raising journey to the outer limits of the known jazz universe, the album feels much longer than its 29- minute playing time, thanks to the sheer diversity and scope of the ideas so dazzlingly compressed into its two wildly contrasting tracks.