Shabaka and the Ancestors - We Are Sent Here By History
Mar 14, 2020 (updated Mar 23, 2020)
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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: the saxophonist and clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings is a man of many projects, a snoop, curious, insatiable, never where you expect him to be. After having shaken up the codes of jazz by infusing it with a bit of jubilant Caribbean primitivity in his autobiographical project Sons Of Kemet and galaxy dust in his cosmic psyche-jazz project The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka has chosen to stop for a moment and reflect, meditate. So it is with one eye turned towards the future and the other towards the past and ancestral traditions that the London saxophonist takes us on a journey to a magical and bewitching black Africa that he recognises as the matrix source of jazz music.

The wizard saxophonist returns to spiritual jazz incantation on his second solo album, "We Are Sent Here By History" and draws on the magic of African traditions and legends. Without taking the slightest interest in the gris-gris and bazaar trinkets supposed to guarantee an "africanity" on the surface, Shabaka surrounded himself with excellent South African musicians and recorded his tracks on location, between Cape Town and Johannesburg, for 2 years. "We Are Sent Here By History" thus captures the feverish slowness, the palpitating emotion but also the fright of a man facing the mysteries of a continent - geographical, musical, human... - definitely unfathomable. So many states that a tense, feverish music translates, conscious of progressing in an uncharted territory where invisible forces can take over at any moment.

The magnetism of this record is due to this struggle accomplished by the saxophonist, to this full acceptance of danger. Taking advantage of the polyrhythmic drummer Tumi Mogorosi and the slow incantations of the singer Siyabonga Mthembu, well supported by Mthunzi Mvubu on 'o' and Mandla Mlangeni on trumpet, Shabaka ventures in all humility to the lyricism, laments and cathartic trance of the ancients. We thinks of John Coltrane, of course, and of his direct disciples as well, but nothing seems academic when the music remains so dependent on a malignant transcendence, fearsome as much as attractive.

We knew he was fond of afrobeat, electro, funk... But fusing styles is not enough for him, the musician-composer has an overall vision of his creative process: in perpetual development, not pledging allegiance to any one genre, reacting to all of them. The music is thus returned to its impulsive, instinctive and immemorial nature.

Best tracks: "They Who Must Die", "Go My Heart, Go to Heaven", "Behold, the Deceiver", "Run, the Darkness Will Pass", "The Coming of the Strange Ones", "Beast Too Spoke of Suffering", "'Til the Freedom Comes Home".

Worst track: "Teach Me How to be Vulnerable"
WhatTheFunk's Tags
6 Comments
Mar 14, 2020
Wow! Such a breathtaking review!
Mar 14, 2020
It's weird finding out you're not Dr. Strangelove. I always assumed that's just what you looked like
Mar 15, 2020
@Sosuke_Arima Thanks a lot, my man
Mar 15, 2020
@Toasterqueen12 That's funny. You remind me that for my 500 followers, I'll change my profile picture. :)
Mar 15, 2020
Farewell Dr. Strangelove, you had a good run. Now it's time for someone else to shine!
Mar 15, 2020
Dr. Strangelove loved his bomb.....but did he love..... himself 😔
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