ALBUM: Moor Mother – ‘Black Encyclopedia Of The Air’

Following 2016’s Fetish Bones, Camae Ayewa – aka Moor Mother – has since been wowing fans with 2017’s The Motionless Present and 2020’s innovative project with Swedish musician Olof Melander, Anthologia, which raised money for disability justice. Now, following much critical acclaim, she is set to release a poignant new album – once again recorded with Melander. In short, Black Encyclopedia of the Air is a remarkably unique and absorbing collection, constituting a scattered and beguiling exploration of idiosyncratic ideas and reflections on modern life.

We open in a free-floating sound realm – ‘Temporal Control of Light Echos’ – which immediately lifts us off the sofa into an antigravity dream where space-time operates in an unfamiliar and unsettling manner. This sensation forcibly synchronises our sense of reality with that of Moor Mother, poet/activist/musician/(fortune teller?)/(sorcerer?) and co-founder of Black Quantum Futurism, a collective invested in rethinking our understanding of and interaction with the past and the future…

As soon as we begin to settle into the opener, we are thrust unceremoniously into the next. This album is full of fast cuts between immediate tunes, most of which nestle under the two-and-a-half minute mark. It feels like more of a collection than an album, with threads picked up and dropped with equal vigour. Rather than being an ‘Encyclopedia’ as the title proclaims, it feels like an open notebook; making synaptic flips between ideas, ranging from oblique sketches (see especially ‘Obsidian’) to striking candour (‘Race Function Limited’, ‘Made a Circle’). Where the latter perhaps were more of a feature on Moor Mother’s vitally charged debut Fetish Bones, it is generally the more mysterious elements that impress on Black Encyclopedia Of The Air.

As a whole, the album is possessed by murk – not in a lazily muddy or ‘moody’ way, but with a dedication to explore the world that darkness speaks of. Synth bursts choked by cut-off fall slow and sinuous like blood in water and swirl alongside breathy vocals and distant cries of jazz elements. Moor Mother proclaims the importance of free jazz to her approach as a writer, an influence that makes itself felt across her instinctive writing and disorientating music. This influence makes itself felt in particular on more rhythmically unconventional tracks like ‘Rogue Waves’ and ‘Iso Fonk’, two of the album’s standouts.

It really comes together on its second side, finding cohesion within its chaos. ‘Tarot’ stands out as the longest and most patient track, justified in its length as it stretches into drones and percussive rings backing what seem like oblique prayers to a strange god. From here, the album coalesces, the final three tracks streamlining into a powerful close, centred around ‘Zami’, which drills into your head and spins it like a fairground ride. 

As a whole, Black Encyclopedia Of The Air feels like its own unique universe of strange sounds and intimations. We are left to chase Moor Mother’s philosophy down sonic abysses and lyrical mazes, and if we could only catch them we might just be rewarded.

Black Encyclopedia Of The Air, the new album from Moor Mother, is set for release on 27th September via ANTI-. Pre-order here.

Lloyd Bolton

Photo Credit: Bob Sweeney

LIVE (Photos): LIINES @ The Grace, London, 09.09.2021

It’s been a long eighteen months, but gigs as we know and love them are slowly starting to return… Following an epic night capturing Berries at The Grace last month, our photographer Jon Mo returned to the North London venue last night to witness the swirling force of GIHE faves LIINES live.

Kicking off the night, Anna Vincent (Heavy Heart, Happyness) charmed the crowd with the glistening allure and heartfelt emotion of her lilting soundscapes. A perfectly dreamy start to the night.

Next up, previous headliners of more than one GIHE live night, ĠENN deliver an energy-fuelled set. Oozing their immense, empowering spirit alongside impressive riffs and racing beats, they never fail to enrapture the crowd with their unique charisma and buoyant spirit.

Celebrating the release of their potent new single, ‘Keep On Going‘, long-term faves and previous GIHE headliners LIINES don’t disappoint, blasting out their brooding, relentless sonic explosions with a frenetic sense of urgency. As Zoe’s distinctive raw vocals soar, the Manchester trio prove once again that they’re a truly sublime force to be reckoned with.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

Comic Review: Bad Waitress – ‘Rabbit Hole’

The latest in our ‘Comic Reviews’ feature – where illustrator Sally-Anne responds to a new release with her wonderfully unique drawings – we check out the raging latest single from Toronto’s Bad Waitress. Following the riotous power of ‘Strawberry Milkshake‘, the band have now shared a playful new video for ‘Rabbit Hole‘, ahead of the release of their debut album later this week.

Of ‘Rabbit Hole’, the band explain:

Rabbit Hole’ plunges you headfirst into an airless spiral. You’re unreachable, growing comfortable in the bleak nest you’ve found yourself in, knowing those you love will tire of trying to dig you out. The song begins with rising tension that, with a rough shove, gives way to a deep sludgy conclusion. Dissonant guitars and jarring vocals bring you to that dark place and swallow you whole.”

No Taste, the upcoming debut album from Bad Waitress, is set for release 3rd September via Royal Mountain.

Sally-Anne Hickman

Track Of The Day: girlhouse – ‘concussion’

A hazy, bitter sweet reflection on the unexpected challenges of overcoming heartbreak, US bedroom-pop artist girlhouse has shared her latest single ‘concussion’. Taken from her upcoming record the second EP, the track is a gentle, lo-fi offering inspired by girlhouse aka Lauren Luiz’s own experience of being involved in a both physical and emotional car crash.

“‘concussion’ is about a monumentally shit day,” Luiz explains. “My first and favorite car got smashed (it was a bright orange 81 Honda Civic with a stick shift), next thing I knew I was lying on the ground, being harassed by LA firemen while a woman was screaming at me calling me a dumb bitch. I just have no idea what happened, all I could think about was this person that had just broken my heart, somehow nothing else mattered. I think I used that relationship as a distraction in a big way, it was that moment where I realized that person was taking up a lot of mental real estate and I needed to make room for actual problems in my life and move on.”

Luiz has transformed her ruminations on this traumatic event into a bright, playful slice of bedroom-pop. Moving on from the anxiety that underscored her debut self-titled EP, girlhouse’s new efforts look set to be just as emotive, but more mature in sound and delivery.

Watch the video for ‘concussion’ below.

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Kate Crudgington