I enjoy listening to weird music. I don’t enjoy the music most of the time, but I enjoy the exploration and discovery of it. I actually have ended up enjoying some free jazz, especially Interstellar Space by John Coltrane and Free Jazz by Ornette Coleman.
Today, I listened to Space is the Place by Sun Ra. It was posted on the jazz subreddit, and I figured I’d give it a try. The title track is 21 minutes of cacophonous honking, futuristic beeps and boops, and cascading chants of “space is the place,” among other things. It’s a wild ride that needs a few listens to be able to take in. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to listen to it more than once.
The second track, “Images,” is a nice, straight ahead jazz track. Nothing crazy to report here, other than some occasional funny sounds on the horns and some esoteric harmonies.
“Discipline 33” is in the same vein as its predecessor, but ventures into freer territory. The whole album is unabashedly unconcerned with sounding pleasant; the goal is to produce sound, and a lot of it. This makes for a much different listening experience than the type to which most casual music fans are accustomed, but I think it’s valuable in its own right.
The freest track on the album is inarguably “Sea of Sound,” an absolute mess of a track that somehow manages to sound cohesive anyway. Free jazz is fascinating in its unstructured deliberance, and I think this track is an exemplar of this philosophy.
The final track, “Rocket Number Nine,” is a three-minute weird-fest that roughly mirrors the opening track. Back are the otherworldly noises, but the chants have been replaced “Rocket Number Nine took off for the planet Venus.” I am not going to attempt to explain this track, just as I didn’t explain “Space is the Place,” because it is not worth explaining something so strange. Just go listen to it if you’re curious.
I realized after I wrote this that I listened to the whole album–and Miles Davis’ Sorcerer, as well–on shuffle, and I’m a little upset. I now understand why these albums seemed less than cohesive. Oh well. I’ll just have to listen to them again.