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Recordings

  Heliosonic Toneways
The Heliosonic Tone-tette
ScienSonic SS10


On April 20, 1965, one of the most astonishing recordings in the history of creative music took place at Richard Alderson's RLA Studio in New York City. The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, featuring the enigmatically beautiful bass marimba (played by Sun Ra himself), sounds like no other record made by anyone, ever. Heliocentric Worlds, Vol. 2, with Ra on "tuned bongos" and clavioline, followed soon after.

To honor the 50th anniversary of this musical milestone, ScienSonic Laboratories convened a remarkable group including two important, longtime Sun Ra Arkestra members: Marshall Allen (probably the only surviving member of the Heliocentric sessions), and Danny Ray Thompson (who joined the band just two years later, in 1967). The goal was to record a project of new and original music, using the distinctive instrumentation and sonic character of the original albums -- including the bass marimba heard on Vol. 1, as well as the boo bams and clavioline heard on Vol. 2. This project could only have taken place at ScienSonic Laboratories, which owns not only boo bams and clavioline, but the actual bass marimba that Sun Ra himself played. Alderson was even tracked down to come in and record the project.

On April 20, 2015, Allen, Alderson, and the bass marimba were reunited at ScienSonic Laboratories for the first time since 1965 - exactly fifty years later to the day. The instruments Ra played (with a 1950s Wurlitzer electronic piano substituting for electronic celeste) were handled by Marshall and Scott Robinson. Two incredible albums of music resulted, corresponding to the sonic profiles of the two different Heliocentric volumes.

This is not a re-creation or "tribute" project. This is completely original music, but made with the sounds and sensibilities used to realize the astonishing vision of The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra. May these become your worlds as well.

Scott Robinson

 
View Press Release


Musicians

The Heliosonic Tone-tette

Scott Robinson: bass marimba, Wurlitzer electronic piano, tenor sax, piccolo, timpani (track 3), model 201 theremin, "power bore" bugle, Faventia barrel piano, treichel bell, soundsheet, dragon drum, space magnets
Marshall Allen: alto sax, EVI (electronic valve instrument), Casio VL-tone, Steinway piano (tracks 7 & 8), bass marimba (track 9)
Philip Harper: trumpet
Frank Lacy: trombone
Tim Newman: bass trombone
Pat O'Leary: string bass, waterphone
JD Parran: bass clarinet
Yosvany Terry: alto sax, woodblocks, bells
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax, flute, bongos, space sound tube
Matt Wilson: drums, timpani, Korean gong, dragon drum (track 6)

(plus misc. percussion and Unidentified Flying Sounds by any/all)

All music was improvised at ScienSonic Laboratories on April 20, 2015, and is presented in the order in which it occurred. The complete, 9-minute Heliotone 5 featuring Marshall Allen at the bass marimba will appear as a bonus track in the Collector's Edition Box Set.

Engineered by Richard Alderson, mixed by Dave Darlington. Session photos by Danny Ray Thompson, except where indicated.

Compositions by Scott Robinson, except Heliotone 7 by Marshall Allen. All music published by Multisonic Music, BMI

Album cover concept and design by Scott Robinson; graphics and layout by Kathy Ridl.

Cover painting (The Light Fantastic, 1976) by Richard Powers; used by agreement with the estate.

TRACKS

1) Heliotone 1A  (6:12)
2) Heliotone 1B  (5:59)
3) Heliotone 2A  (5:48)
4) Heliotone 2B  (3:44)
5) Heliotone 3A  (9:44)
6) Heliotone 3B  (5:45)
7) Heliotone 4A  (5:25)
8) Heliotone 4B  (4:37)
9) Heliotone 5B  (1:00)
10) Heliotone 6  (7:06)
11) Heliotone 7  (6:46)