“Father of the Suns Collaborates with Downbeat Heavyweights to bring Life”.
Suns of Arqa have been hailed at times as one of the greatest pioneers of downbeat and world fusion in the modern era. Coming together in the late 70’s under the watchful eye of Michael Wadada, the collective has since ushered through over 200 artists, let fly around 60 releases, been recording for over three decades and have just released their latest full length album on Liquid Sound Design, All Is Not Lost But Where Is It? Featuring The Orb, Youth and Raja Ram.
Wadada formed SOA in 1979 after receiving higher guidance during a trip to Kingston, Jamaica whilst working with Prince Far-I, the traditional roots reggae chanter of legendry status. Invited by Peter Gabriel to play at the first WOMAD festival The Suns have released on Virgin, EMI and their own label Arqa Sound, played Boom, Roskilde, Glastonbury and Big Chill and have been credited with prolific and seminal influence on the World Beat sound. Finley Quaye, Zion Train and Steve Hopkins are amongst a hefty list of collaborators with Alex Patterson from The Orb, UK producer Youth and Raja Ram of Shpongle featuring on the latest release. Featuring the spoken words of John Cooper Clarke, produced by Martin ‘Youth’ Glover (as his first release since Pink Floyd’s The Endless River) the album is under distribution from Arabesque Digital with the release being directed by Triskele Management.
Over the years The Suns have worked across the realms of World Music to combine the Piobaireachd music of the Scottish Highlands with Hindustani raga systems and Nyabinghi roots drumming of the Rastafari. The result is a deeply spiritual vibration that merges cultures, faiths and musical genres.
Erasmus Dub begins with a haunting wood flute from Raja Ram before dropping heavily into a Shpongle-esque dub flavoured beat. Several different male voices for the sampling and some deep driving bass lines fleshing out the halting rhythm make for a track that quenches any Shpongle-lovers thirst. The video is worth a quick look on Liquid Sound Design’s Facebook page.
The Fool Ascends is a progressive electro downbeat masterpiece. Dipping and rolling through waves of synth-washed, deep, bassy beats the acoustically instrumental flute floating over the top contrast beautifully to keep the listener locked in and flying high. Strangely enough the beat count comes in at around 120 but feels a lot slower. Perhaps there’s even a Terence McKenna sample in there to keep us on our toes. Either him or John Cooper Clarke.
Pablo’s Lament runs over the eight minute mark and begins inncocently enough in a reggae flavoured track complemented by harmonica. The oscillators begin working themselves in after about a minute and double time the background to create a marvellous composition of true downbeat textbook definition. Textured with many different samples and sounds one can only wonder why Pablo was lamenting so, and wether this track cheered him up or not.
The background of the band is impressive, the album itself delivers an electro downbeat sound worthy in any afficionado’s collection and is obviously the tip of the iceberg in a career spanning millennia, several major changes in popular music formats and an impressive release list. The spirituality of Wadada is evident in the progression of the band. He sums it thus; “It is the ultimate sound to take us through the changes to come. Where sound is not just a backdrop to life but ultimately is life itself”.