TRAX – 11.08.18

MOURNING [A] BLKSTAR, Garner Poems (Electric Cowbell): ****

Cleveland’s self-described “DIY Afrofuturist soul” collective pay powerful tribute to Eric Garner and Tamir Rice with this dark but consequential 10-song suite, composed by keyboardist/producer RA Washington and LaToya Kent, with gospel-fed vocals (from Kent, James Longs and Kyle Kidd) recalling Curtis Mayfield protests. That’s entirely appropriate. “Anti Anthem” punches out rallying cries (“Power to the living”) over a magnetic funk groove, but “Emancipation,” “Bullet” and the title track haunt with washes of synths, horns, harmonica, percussion and words (“I can’t breathe”), while the jazz-meets-hip-hop “our mecca” mantra of “Harlem River” evokes Langston Hughes and renaissance lost. Listen.