AOTY 2021

We Are Sent Here By History

Shabaka and the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
Critic Score
Based on 13 reviews
2020 Ratings: #56 / 821
User Score
Based on 496 ratings
2020 Ratings: #50
Liked by 38 people
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The Arts Desk

Though the album speaks ferociously of racial and social iniquity, toxic masculinity and more, it also imagines, and vividly depicts, a better world.

Loud and Quiet

Testament to his mission statement ... it’s the space Hutchings gives to his fellow creators that provide some of the album’s most memorable cornerstones.


We Are Sent Here by History is final proof that Hutchings is a modern jazz prophet; he sees the past as merely a jumping-off point for exploration, not only in music but in philosophical concepts, cultural theories, and spiritual precepts as an aesthetic.

Crack Magazine

There is a freedom in the swirling chaos, a space to roam amongst the noise of this raw creation of drums, sax and voice.

Louder Than War

Sure, Hutchings is a rare talent, but the rest of the band, comprising a stellar cast of South Africa’s finest jazz musicians, merit equal billing on this slice of vinyl.

Spectrum Culture

Despite the ominous, apocalyptic inspiration behind the album, We Are Sent Here By History consistently resolves toward hope, even if its underlying optimism isn’t so much the aversion of doom so much as the desire to meet that doom as one’s best self.

The Observer
This second album from his alliance with assorted South African musicians is both calmer and more ominous than his work with the Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet.
The British-Barbadian jazz saxophonist and his South African players narrate the apocalypse from a distant future, suggesting that in order to build anew, some things will first need to burn.
Under The Radar

We Are Sent Here By History is nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable and well-executed assortment of tracks that will perhaps get better the more they are listened to.

The Skinny

What you gain from We Are Sent Here By History will be dictated by how much you connect with its musical vision. Sink into its groove though and it’s an album that presents a fascinating societal commentary.

To everyone interested in this band, I highly suggest checking out their 2016 debut, 'Wisdom of Elders' if you haven't already, incredible display of instrumental brilliance!

Skillful, well-spoken, innovative, I've recently gained a huge admiration and deep fascination for saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and his very notable works in groups such as The Comet is Coming and Sons of Kemet. In this current sociopolitical climate, the modernistic, unconventional jazz compositions he tends to be ... read more
Plunging into the transcendent groove of Shabaka, I imagine my African ancestors, their traditions, their dignity, their magic. Would they be proud of me today, me, the little well westernized colored man having forgotten all the ancestral customs and proverbs? Listening to this record full of occultism, my sister suddenly declared herself cured of her angina. We have to believe in sorcerer saxophones and healing fetish albums.

He is, without a doubt, the new boss of the English jazz scene: ... read more
EDIT: moral of the story, everything Shabaka Hutchings touches = gold

A riveting exodus through an extremely dense and engaging jazz atmosphere. This is the best Jazz album I’ve heard since the last Sons of Kemet record. A truly riveting and impressive journey to say the least.

Shades of Fela Kuti all over this thing, yep, I’m lovin every bit of it
Keeping the age-old jazz legacy of Impulse! Records alive, Shabaka and The Ancestors have delivered one of the most expressive and intricate jazz albums that we've seen in a long time. This thing just creates its own superior atmosphere as soon as the first instrument is played. Those drums kick in, then the horns matched with some obscure phrase-shouting and you start to feel like you've just walked into a tribe ritual (but they somehow have horns and are good at playing them). Seriously, this ... read more
If you're a fan of the sound of modern jazz acts Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming, this collection of jazz songs is a guaranteed win given the front-man saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings who is associated with all three acts. It's a constantly shifting and spiritual adventure that feels far more traditional than the other two acts Hutchings is involved with, which are often heavily experimental and fall more within the terriroty of nu jazz.

Shabaka and the Ancestors is guided so heavily by ... read more
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Track List

  1. They Who Must Die
  2. You’ve Been Called
  3. Go My Heart, Go To Heaven
  4. Behold, The Deceiver
  5. Run, The Darkness Will Pass
  6. The Coming Of The Strange Ones
  7. Beast Too Spoke Of Suffering
  8. We Will Work (On Redefining Manhood)
  9. ’Til The Freedom Comes Home
  10. Finally, The Man Cried
  11. Teach Me How To Be Vulnerable
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Added on: January 31, 2020