After Robots

After Robots

by BLK JKS

Vinyl LP(Long Playing Record)

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Overview

After Robots

The '80s had Graceland, the '90s had Rusted Root, and the new millennium had Vampire Weekend, so at this point it should be no surprise when North American pop music embraces South African sensibilities. However, with BLK JKS' highly hyped debut, Afro-pop is presented in a different light. Instead of being a U.S.-minded album created with the help of African musicians, it's one created by African musicians. Instead of being a watered-down white take on tribal beats, it's a reversal: Africans staking their claim on indie rock. In a traditional four-piece lineup (with all members sharing vocal duties), lead guitarist Lindani Buthelezi, rhythm guitarist Mpumi Mcata, bassist Molefi Makananise, and drummer Tshepang Ramoba bounce polyrhythms off one another while pulling aspects from all types of rock influences: especially indie rock, psychedelic rock, and prog rock. Like Mars Volta and TV on the Radio, BLK JKS' songs are made up of shifting soundcapes rather than a linear progression. More often than not, these reverberated parts (enhanced by producer Brandon Curtis) whirlwind away into a free-form jam full of horn blasts provided by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble or circular Santana-esque guitar runs. Each member of the Johannesburg group supplies enough adventurousness and prowess on his respective instrument to satisfy hipsters and hippies alike. BLK JKS' Mystery EP from six months earlier acted as a calling card designed to show off their musical abilities, but it only scratched the surface. In just nine songs, so much ground is covered on After Robots that it barely seems like one unified album. Sung in their native tongue, the acoustic-based "Tsalene" could fit into the world section of your local music store, "Standby" imitates a Brit-rock ballad (think Elbow), while the aggressive syncopated pluck of "Lakeside" (also available on the EP, in a slightly different version) remains their most defining song. But why try to define them? They fit into the indie rock genre about as loosely as Bad Brains fit the hardcore punk stereotype or Living Colour fit in the hair metal mold. Who cares? Pigeonholing is futile, the music is boundless.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/08/2009
Label: Secretly Canadian
UPC: 0656605019710
catalogNumber: 50197

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