SONS OF RA: Invisible Oranges Premieres “Tropic Of Cancer Part I” Video/Single; Tropic Of Cancer EP From Chicago Avant-Jazz Fusion Trio Nears Release April 19th

photo by Bulbbrain Creative

“They fill post-metal’s airy soundscapes with tight, but complicated motifs that layer and build into fascinating superpositions.” – Invisible Oranges

As Chicago-based instrumental avant-jazz fusion trio SONS OF RA prepares to release their compelling new Tropic Of Cancer EP on April 19th, Invisible Oranges today presents an exclusive premiere of the record’s opening track.

Hailing from the underground scene of Chicago, the eclectic SONS OF RA ensemble draws inspiration from avantgarde music, classic jazz fusion with post-progressive sensibilities, infusing their compositions with cosmic vibrations and experimental fervor. As demonstrated on their 2020-released Cognitive debut EP, and through live performances alongside such artists as Stu Hamm, Sonar, Chester Thompson & Alphonso Johnson, and Consider The Source, drummer Michael Rataj (Arbogast, Mine Collapse) lays an energetic and ever-shifting rhythmic framework for tenor saxophonist/bassist Keith Wakefield (Jan King & Medicine Ball) and guitarist Erik Oldman (Mare Crisium) to weave angular, contrapuntal melodies with ethereal textures augmented by loops and synthesizer explorations. More than a band, they are sonic sorcerers, weaving spells of experimental brilliance that transcend the boundaries of traditional genres.

The trio now returns with Tropic Of Cancer, a six-part suite that further showcases the sprawling SONS OF RA sound. Tropic Of Cancer is an immersive and transformative listen, the EP covering an incredibly vast expanse of auditory territory within its twenty-three-minute lifespan. Several guests contribute performances to the record, with violin by Jessica Billey, pipa by Quentin Dover, and flute by Isaiah Sanderman further expanding its sonic scope. Tropic Of Cancer was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Spenser Morris at Palisade Studios with additional recording by Eric McWhorter at Maynott Studios – both in Chicago – with photography by Josh Dagenais and artwork and layout by Erik Vecchione.

The new video for “Tropic Of Cancer Part I” was filmed and directed by drummer Mike Rataj/Bulbbrain Creative.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Tropic Of Cancer is its age. “The main themes of the suite were written during Winter of 1998 when I moved back to Chicago from Austin,” Oldman reveals. “I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy and radiation for nine months. I had to give up my musical studies and performance for some time. Much of the emotional content behind the music deals with the immediate loss of identity and relationships when completely uprooting an entire life to move across country.”

He expands, “This is the genesis of the entire suite. My personal life at the time was in turmoil after getting my diagnosis. At the time I was making music in Austin, studying jazz and Afro-Cuban music. I uprooted my life and came back to Chicago to stay with family while undergoing medical treatment. The Latin music references sort of stuck, but as the piece evolved and as I started to get back out into the music scene in Chicago, the heavier sound influences crept in.”

Invisible Oranges writes, “There’s a reason that SONS OF RA remains a staple in the heavier side of Chicago’s music scene, often sharing bills with doom metal — they’re heavy in a way nobody else here is. On the spectrum of jazz to metal, SONS OF RA skew heavily toward jazz, but they incorporate their heavier influences in a way that feels natural. Whereas a lot of ‘jazz metal’ music is either primarily metal with jazz as a texture, or just sounds like someone tossing a bucket of nails down a staircase, the trio make heavy tones and distortion feel at home against tightly syncopated grooves and expressive, unusual tonalities. They fill post-metal’s airy soundscapes with tight, but complicated motifs that layer and build into fascinating superpositions.”

Watch SONS OF RA’s “Tropic Of Cancer Part I” video first at Invisible Oranges RIGHT HERE.

SONS OF RA will self-release Tropic Of Cancer on 12” vinyl, CD, and digitally on April 19th. Preorders for all formats and merch are now available HERE, and digital presaves can be found HERE. Also watch the video for “Tropic Of Cancer Part III” HERE.

Watch for additional videos from the EP to be issued over the weeks ahead. SONS OF RA will also release their debut LP later this year.

SONS OF RA is booking an array of live performances and other events throughout the Midwest surrounding the release of the EP, including a kickoff show featuring guests musicians from the EP on March 17th, a run of shows in Minnesota and Wisconsin March 21st through 23rd, a hometown release show for the EP April 20th, and more. Additional Spring shows, a Fall tour, and more are also in the planning stages. See all confirmed shows below and watch for further updates to post.

3/22/2024 ROK Bar – St. Paul, MN w/ Jojo Green, Lulu & The Shoe, Cannakiss
3/23/2024 301’s Spring Showcast @ Crucible Madison – Madison, WI w/ The Unnecessary Gunpoint Lecture, Knifeback, more
4/20/2024 Liars Club – Chicago, IL *EP release show w/ We Killed The Lion, Human Trials, Dead Languages
5/04/2024 WZRD’s 50th Anniversary Bash @ Martyrs – Chicago, IL
5/24/2024 Bantha Tea Bar – Pittsburgh, PA w/ John Hardin
5/25/204 Mulligans – Grand Rapids, MI w/ Flood The Desert, Apostles

photo by Andrew Rothmund