CREDIT: Obtainium. Excavated from the Web.
WHAT:“Solar Flare: Sun Ra’s album covers were wild, inspired, and a universe away from Blue Note”: my feature on the graphic-design sensibility of the jazz composer Sun Ra, Print magazine, June 2009, pps. 86-93.
ATTENTION CONSERVATION KEYWORDS: Afrofuturism, Sun Ra, graphic design from Alpha Centauri, black starliners, Afrocentrist UFOlogy, space jazz from Betelgeuse.
ATTENTION CONSERVATION PULLQUOTE:
“A world away from the smoky, cellar-jam-session cool of [most jazz] album art, the handmade aesthetic, do-it-yourself ethos, and ripped-and-remixed imagery of [Sun Ra’s] album covers and promo materials are of a piece with [the composer’s] bricolaged cosmology. Desperate to escape what Ra biographer John Szwed calls the ‘racially possessed’ America of the Jim Crow years, Ra built an alternate worldview from scratch, cobbling it together from Flash Gordon futurism, mail-order Egyptology, Biblical hermeneutics, and 19th-century occultism. Long before men walked on the moon, Ra knew, in his bones, that he was part of the ‘angel race.’ Like a trans-racial Marcus Garvey beckoning humankind toward his intergalactic starliner, he urged space migration for black and white alike.
The El Saturn graphics are a part of this sprawling star chart, a cosmic Baedeker pointing to Other Planes of There.”
CREDIT: Dave Muller, “WHAT WOULD SUN RA DO?” Acrylic on paper, 2004. COPYRIGHT: Dave Muller, all rights reserved.