Energy. Unfiltered, uncensored, unapologetic energy. “Open the gates, we arrive, energy time” exclaims Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother), to the frantic, pulsating sound of tribal drums, intense percussion and basslines that intertwine to create this hypnotic groove that is complemented by incredible horn melodies throughout. It’s a fiery start to what is an incredibly dense, poignant and utterly breathtaking album. There’s always been this nervous political energy around their music, whether through Camae’s incredible spoken-word poetry, or the incredible musicianship from the band, consisting of Keir Neuringer on saxophone, synth and percussion, Aquiles Navarro on trumpet and synth, Luke Stewart on double bass and bass guitar, and Tcheser Holmes on drums and percussion. Their music demands attention. Their music is too intricate in composition to be left in the background – each and every detail needs to be articulated and listened to attentively. Part of their aura and appeal to me is their ability to create loud, unfiltered jazz music, and it’s something that I’ve grown to absolutely love about albums like Who Sent You? and Irreversible Entanglements. The drum grooves, each subtle synth lead, each horn wail is there to for impact. Their third studio album Open The Gates may be their most adventurous an eclectic to date.
Camae’s lyrics are central to the theme of Black power and liberation. There’s something truly striking about the way she expresses her thoughts. Like abstract paintings that tell a deeper story of struggle and dystopia that has prevented her people from finding true peace and freedom. Coupled with the band’s incredibly frantic and unnerving instrumentation, such as on the incredible “Storm Came Twice”, her words become all the more poigant and powerful. “Water Meditation”, the album’s longest cut at 20 minutes, is a stunning body of work, with tribal percussion and horn melodies giving way for Camae’s hypnotic, cleansing words about the power of meditation, with bells and chimes in the background giving this record this hypnotic tone, almost like the gates to true spiritual awakening are opening in front of me, with a thick double bass melody taking over and creating this abstract but liberating melody that meanders throughout the quiet soundscape around it. The track builds and builds, with intense drumming giving the track this incredibly unnerving energy, still maintaining this hypnotic, entrancing groove throughout. The tone of the track shifts towards something more alarming and urgent, as the instrumentation explodes for a brief period of time, before calming down again. It’s like experiencing a fierce, heavy storm in audio format. The intensity of “Storm Came Twice” is an example of this, while the Lágrimas Del Mar sounds almost triumphant – “We are so close to the good news” expresses Camae, with a glimmer of optimism. The haunting synths of “Keys to Creation” are emotive, and coupled with the grooves of the basslines, the incredible drumming throughout and Camae’s abstract thoughts and observations. “In each life, some rain must fall” was a line in particular that caught my attention, as the frantic energy of the instrumental around her voice is almost at a climatic level. It’s my favourite track on the album, and one that embodies the group’s aura and sonic genius effortlessly. The haunting “Six Sounds” is another incredble moment on the album, while “The Port Remembers” closes the album out with a variety of different sonic twists and turns. “A dream? I remember a nightmare” Camae expresses as the whirling horns, percussion and drumming intensifies, an absolutely incredible moment brings some of Camae’s most striking lyrical moments yet.
Irreversible Entanglements have composed one of the best jazz albums of the year. Its frantic, unsettling tone and energy throughout a 1 hour 14 minute runtime is relentless, as each member of the group is able to create unsettling free jazz that explores sonic palettes that sound powerful and utterly mesmeric. Open The Gates is examplary of this, and it just such an incredible all-round listening experience, an album I feel like I will be listening to in years and years to come. Sernding love to everyone involved! Released via International Anthem.