Fruitful Investigations (March 13th, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Once again, no narrative with which to surround these immersions–but I predict, based on the quality of these first-time listens, that narratives may be forthcoming.

South African rapper Yugen Blakrok is one of the few really interesting things about the Kendrick Lamar-curated Black Panther companion. I took a deeper dive into her 2013 debut, and one of the best things I can say about it is her mind-spray and fluid, fluent flow is gonna require I take an even deeper dive. She’s definitely got a seat in the Afro-Futurist spaceship; her rapping sounds to me like incantations; and she’s got a knack for joining abstractions with physical being–check this chunk from “Secrets of the Path,” one of many highlights:

What kinda ism is this?
We’re like light thru a prism before the schism is killed
In the prison of sleep…I keep rhyming through bars, lucid dreaming
Heard that love’s brighter from the outside, believe it
This morning when life woke up, I dove back down into slumber
Cuz in-between realities, there’s glitches when I stutter
Sleep-talking formula with in-breath
Exhale solutions, scientist in me is inbred
My language traps the tongue – caught in diction mazes lost for days – in hazy blazes
While fiery words transcend these mortal planes
My verbal play’s like smoke signals, home of the braves
And wild style thoughts can spray when the clouds spell riverclay
Psycho-analyst type in-between-the-lines reader
Deciphering codes beneath the eyelids as a dreamer
Diving deeper into abstract, non-conformity
My realest self’s created thru celestial artistry

Musically, Return of the Astro-Goth is just fine, though a bit of a static ground. This woman’s going to be much, much bigger, I think.

Saxophonist Evan Parker, almost 74, drummer Paul Lytton, freshly 71, and bassist Barry Guy, about to turn 71 himself, have long been friends, and for almost four decades a performing trio—the cream of British jazz improvisation. One thing I’ve noticed about the very best free performances is that it’s virtually impossible to determine the age of the performers. That idea is in play here: the reflexes, imagination, and ears of these men, surely aided by–yes–the profound familiarity of years, could be those of iconoclastic twenty-somethings looking took cut some old farts’ heads. ‘Cept these are the old farts, who long ago discovered a secret of life. As Parker says in the notes: “”Collective free improvisation is the utopian state arrived at in that other ‘little life,’ as the late John Stevens called the mental space of music making that happens when musicians of a like mind (birds of a feather) play freely together.” Like-minded. Yeah.

As I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, I’m subscribing to Joyful Noise Recordings’ “White Label Series,” in which established independent artists choose and curate overlooked albums from the very recent past for monthly vinyl release. March’s entry is one I’ve eagerly awaited; in fact, my motivation to subscribe to the project was largely due to sui generis rap MC Serengeti‘s involvement. I’ve long been a fan of the shape-shifting story-teller from Chicago, though much of his work is so gnomic, muted, depressive, and minimalistic that it not only demands sound-canceling headphone attention but can also, even then, defy parsing. The reason I mention that is Foreign & Domestic’s 2007 release, Your Mountain vs. My Iceberg, Serengeti’s “White Label” choice, shares those qualities. Is there such a subgenre as electro-twee? My first listen here tempts me to coin it. But I will be going back in when time permits.

Short-shrift Division:

Fans of Norman Whitfield, early Seventies protest-soul, and the Palmieri Brothers who haven’t heard this record need to change that fact. A landmark of post-assassination American pop that’s gotten too little attention–hell, I didn’t hear about it until a few years ago, and this stuff’s my meat and taters. With Eddie on piano and “theoretical arrangements,” Charlie on fascinating organ, luminaries like Pretty Purdie, Cornell Dupree, and Bruce Fowler in the musical mix, and the unsung Jimmy Norman on vocals. A taste:

Note: a great live album followed, which I wrote about last month!

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