The Story So Far…

Suns of Arqa creator and mentor Michael Wadada has been continuously investigating the supernatural potential hidden in the Classical Raga structure of the music of India. His mission – to mix the cerebral and illusive cosmological vibrations of Raga, with the mother earth rhythms of Niyabinghi drumming that were surfacing in England in the guise of Dub Reggae.

In 1979 Wadada set about recording the ground breaking Suns of Arqa album 'Revenge of the Mozabites' with his friend Adrian Sherwood. Together they formed the ‘4D Rhythm’ label – the world was not ready! Wadada retreated to the Pennine mountain range in Lancashire, Adrian Sherwood went on to create the formidable ‘On-U Sound’ label. Three years went by before a a very curious Peter Gabriel came across a rare copy of that first Suns of Arqa album; he was putting together the very first World of Music and Dance festival (WOMAD), and asked Suns of Arqa to come and perform.

Manchester was the ideal melting pot for Wadada to form the first Suns of Arqa live band. At the same time the Belgian label ‘Antler Subway’ released the LP ‘Wadada Magic’; both this and ‘Revenge of the Mozabites’ are now available on one album – ‘Arqaology’ ARKA 2105CD


Next came the legendary collaborations with Prince Far-I, which can be heard on ‘A Brief History of SOA’ (Arka 2111CD) which as the title suggests is a potted history of Suns of Arqa.

7th December 1982 Prince Far-I did one last show in Manchester with Suns of Arqa; on his return to Jamaica he was murdered by an unidentified gunman. This last performance can be heard on ‘Suns of Arqa Live with Prince Far-I’ Arka2100CD

Wadada went into hiding again, this time to the Cornish fishing village of Polperro where he produced the epic 'Land of a Thousand Churches’ (Arka 2101CD). An album where the Requiem mass of Gabriel Fauré meets Heavy Dub, Hindu Gods meet Celtic mythology and Soul meets Reggae. With a cast of thousands, including John Cooper Clarke, Professor Stanley Unwin, Feso Trombone, Helen Watson, Eric Random, James Young, Choirs, Hurdy Gurdy’s and Wadada’s very own musical invention, the Sajoe.

The following album went back to the roots – Suns of Arqa’s roots that is! With Wadada’s bass line gelling together the beautiful hues of Tim Wheater’s flute and the whirling shenhai sounds of Kadir Durvesh, this deleted ‘Antler Subway’ LP can now be heard, wonderfully remixed by Youth on ‘Jaggernaut Whirling Dub’ (Arka 2103CD). The purely meditative ‘Cradle’ (Arka CD EASM004) again had Kadir Durvesh (whose credits include work with george Harrison as well as the new Kula Shaker album) and Tim Wheater blending heavenly melodies with the haunting violin of Poland’s Marek Miczyk.

The prolific works of Wadada and the Suns of Arqa continued, with the ambient dub collaborations, featuring the great Bamboo flute maestro from Bombay Ragunath Seth on ‘Kokoromochi’ (Arka 2104CD). This album also has two 20 minute tracks from the long lost ‘India?’ LP. Although these albums were not readily available in the shops, they were on the turntables of Dostor Alex (The Orb) Patterson, who was at that time A & R man at Robert Fripp’s EG Music. Wadada played sitar with The Orb on their October 1998 tour.

Wadada was also inadvertantly, or otherwise, influencing a whole new wave of acts such as Transglobal Underground, Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart, Loop Guru etc; and later on a whole new posse, with the likes of Celt Arabia, Afro-Celt Sound System and Kula Shaker. Also, a whole host of World Music pilferers – for instance, listen to Andy Weatherall’s first ‘Sabres of Paradise’ single for unauthorised and unaccredited sampling of Suns of Arqa music.

Alap-Joe-Jhala’ (Arka 2102CD) was recorded in Southall, London with N. Magriel on the Sarangi, Wadada on Bass and Chris Joyce on drums – his last session before going on to join Simply Red. Wadada moved back to Manchester, releasing a series of hard-edge Dance Singles. First came ‘Govinda’s Dream’ produced with 808 State’s Graham Massey, followed by the Sun’s very first Jungle Tune with A Guy Called Gerald. All these mixes can be heard on the recently released ‘Remixes Vol. 2 & 3' (on Hamburgs Echo Beach label 2188CD), along with some more up to date Drum & Bass workouts from Zion Train, Sounds From the Ground, Kopeikin, Youth and MuslimGauze. It even has the very first recording of another of Wadada’s proteges Finlay Quaye.

Wadada could be credited with the creation of Acid Folk music for his collaboration with Astralasia ‘Sul-E-Stomp’, which can now be heard on ‘Total Eclipse of the Suns’ (Arka 2108CD) along with some other interesting artefacts.

Suns of Arqa were ready to be seen and heard; the mid 90’s saw a gathering of new musicians. On highland bagpipes, John Snelson, on violin the young and gifted Johar Ali from New Delhi. On vocals, Angel-Eye chanting lyrics from Alice Bailey and Dion Fortune; also, Indian Dhrupad singer Reba Bhaduri and Sumit Bhaduri on Pakhawaj. Delroy ‘Sticksman’ Walker had also arrived, from the twelve tribes HQ in Manchester, taking over on drums. Playing the original reggae rhythms Sticksman was also drumming on Finlay Quayes’ debut album ‘Maverick A-Strike’. Wadada went on to produce one of the most spiritually uplifting AND danceable albums of our time ‘Shabda’ (Arka 2109CD)

There followed appearances on the Andy Kershaw and Mark Radcliffe radio shows, TV appearances, Glastonbury, The Phoenix and Trans-Musical festivals, along with extensive touring. The intensity and vitality can be heard on the live album ‘ Animan’ (Arka 2110CD).

And now, two decades on, Wadada has met his musical counterpart Laszlo Hortobagyi and the Gayan Uttejak Orchestra produced at their studio in Budapest, Hungary. ‘Suns of Arqa meet the Gayan Uttejak Orchestra’ (Arka CD22113) is an album of haunting mystery, ethereal voices and contributions from John Cooper Clarke and Professor Stanley Unwin. Arka Sound have also released the new album from Laszlo Hortobagyi‘Songs from Hungisthan’ (Arka CD22114) and will be touring together in East and west Europe early in 1999 to coincide with the release of these two albums.

As the Sun’s continue to shine, Wadada is currently working on a new album ‘Cosmic Jugalbandi’ (Arka 22115) produced by John Leckie at Real World Studios in Witshire. This features his favourite band of Indian Musicians – Ragunath Seth on Bamboo Flute, Johar Ali on Violin, Shahbaz Hussain on Tablas and Kadir Durvesh on Shenhai.

Wadada says:

"It is the ultimate sound to take us through the changes to come. Where sound is not just a backdrop to life but ultimately it is life itself."

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