Ohio’s Mourning [A] BLKstar will drop their sophomore album, The Garner Poems, on October 26, on the Electric Cowbell label.
The band identifies itself as “a multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture dedicated to servicing the stories and songs of the apocalyptic diaspora.” The band’s name – Mourning [A] BLKstar – mirrors the importance of music and recognizes lives lost at the hands of the police, as well as the heritage of African-American artistry.
Made up of R.A. Washington (keys, production, vocals), James Longs (vocals), Kyle Kidd (vocals), LaToya Kent (vocals), Dante Foley (drums), Peter Saudek (drums), Theresa May (trumpet), and William Washington (trombone), Mourning [A] BLKstar merges their unique type of Afrofuturist soul with hip-hop modality and lo-fi resonance.
The Garner Poems encompasses ten tracks, opening with “Anti-Anthem,” a powerful Afro-soul-infused tune with potently braying horns and buff vocal harmonies. A hint of funk-lite pervades the groove, giving the tune a glowing radiance, pulsing with energy.
From a purely subjective perspective, the best tracks on the album include “Bullet,” which starts off with dirge-like colors riding tight, oozing horns, and dark keyboards. The measured flow of the tune is full of dark resolves, and sorrow-infused gospel flavors. The title track features heavy, opaque colors atop a throbbing flow of R&B-laced soul hues. The anthropomorphic parameters of the lyrics – “I can’t breathe” – suffuse the music with choking tension and angst. This is a formidably evocative song.
“The Box” blends Afrofuturist soul with a combination of strident synths and low-slung hip-hop dynamics. Melodic vocals take on rapping-lite tonalities focused along a single sonic axis. The ultimate track, “Three Stars Collide,” projects wickedly harsh energy riding on penetrating, jarring pigments, tense and disconcerting, yet effectively haunting. A sense of imminence streams from the harmonics, as if something substantial is about to occur.
The Garner Poems is exquisitely wrought, full of puissant aesthetic precepts and robust harmonics. Don’t miss this one.