THE WIRE’S RECKONING ALBUM REVIEW
The Wire calls Mourning [A] BLKstar’s upcoming album, Reckoning, "one of 2019’s sweetest and most soaring transmissions from Black America.”
MAY 2019 | NEIL KULKARNI | THE WIRE | SOUNDCHECK A-Z
Cleveland Soul/funk/hip hop collective Mourning [A] BLKstar threw a baleful light on 2018 with their The Garner Poems set. It sounded rushed in the best way —a rapid response to the ever worsening racial and political situation under Trump— and was one of the years sharpest most engrossing albums. This follow-up feels more planned and finessed, having had more time to stew in its own dread and despair. It is, impossibly, even better than Garner and one of the finest albums of 2019 thus far, from a band whose importance is fast becoming evident.
The multi-generation, multi-gender nature of the crew helps —it means they never quite settle on a genre, instead fusing what they know to create something both they and we can remain gratifyingly unsure about, whether it’s the rippling avant funk of “Anti-Anthem” or the lo-fi slo-mo doomed gospel of “At The Wall.” Even when you can distinctly hear the reinvocation of conscious-minded soul and funk (“Gang Desire” and “Hold Me”) it’s problematized by the sheer impossibility of disentangling the music’s making— Is this live? Looped? Who knows?
Holding on throughout, giving the album its thread of resistance, reflection and revelation are the voices —gorgeously on point in the layered backing vocals, but gloriously unmannered and choked in the lead voices allowed to commandeer these epistles of grief back to a traditional centre.
This is true community music that lets everybody speak, and cuts off sentiments and ideas dead as soon as their expressed (check the brutal sign off to “Harms”)— it also has absolutely no problem fusing the political, sexual and social together, not only within the space of one song, but often within the space of a single verse, a single chorus, a single line. With the three tracks that close out Reckoning — “Situations,” “Sweet Oil,” and “Star”— the album even gives consolation, throws an arm around its people’s shoulder with real impact and soul. This stands with Clear Soul Forces’ Still and Durand Jones’s American Love Call as one of 2019’s sweetest and most soaring transmissions from Black America, but I’d say Reckoning far eclipses both of those.
Check out the full digital magazine spread here.