MOOR MOTHER – Fetish Bones (Don Giovanni)
It can be a daunting prospect writing a review of an album that has had such a profound impact on you but is well outside of the genres with which you are experienced covering. Are you going to be preaching to entirely the wrong audience? Are extreme metal fans as open minded as you hope they are? Am I going to use the appropriate language and rhetoric to describe the music? I began to doubt whether I should even attempt to set down my thoughts on this incredible record. Perhaps I should keep it and treasure it for myself? In the end I decided that it is far more important to spread the word about this album that makes a mockery of such words as VITAL and IMPORTANT. 2016 sees the world in a precarious position. America, not content with the levels of racially motivated police violence, is on the brink of appointing a racist, xenophobic, ultra-capitalistic narcissist as president – either that or Hillary Clinton, whose idea of appealing to black voters amounted to ‘confessing’ that she always carries a bottle of hot sauce in her handbag. This side of the pond we have a man in Jeremy Corbyn who actually stands out from the crowd of careerists and maintainers of the status quo and is being systematically torn apart by the beast of Westminster and the politically engendered BBC. Oh and of course then there is the so-called ‘war on terror’, whose definition is becoming ever looser, stoking more fires than it is putting out, while ignoring the fact that an intellectual war on organised religion through education and enlightenment would be far more appropriate. Teaching children from primary school age that their God is the one true God? Really? It is not a good time for social justice and so all the more important is it that we step out of our collective comfort zones and find common ground with people from all over the world and empathize with issues that are arising from this global sickness that may not come knocking at our own doors. So, there’s that, but from a personal point of view it is also rather liberating to leave one’s comfort zone now and again and introduce something totally different to your readership.
photo by nema etebar
So, step forward Moor Mother (aka Camae Ayewa) whose new album Fetish Bones is her first in physical format after a whole host of digital releases to which I was totally oblivious. Camae Ayewa, the woman behind Moor Mother has many ways to describe her music, ranging from witch rap to black ghost songs and chill step, but first and foremost this is protest music at its purest – with a deeply poetic, dark heart. The reality is that no one description applies here because this is a record not concerned with rules and genre convention, instead its drive is story-telling. The story dictates the form in a way that recreates the magic of early hip hop, as well as the jazz of the likes of Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra. This is incredibly refreshing. Fetish Bones is a call out from the void for black rights, taking us on a harrowing journey through the African American’s violent history from 1866 through to the present day. At times, Ayewa who samples some hip hop as well as a little gospel and no small measure of almost post-industrial effects, introduces real life examples of police brutality – she pays homage to Fairfax resident Natasha McKenna who died last year while in police custody. Her voice shape-shifts between the angry, punk-drenched hip hop of Deadbeat Protest to the haunting cries of ‘Get those chains off me!’ that raised every hair on my arms and touched something deep inside me and the hazy, beautiful post-R&B tones of closing track Time Float.
I cannot profess to be an expert on hip hop / rap related artists, although over the years I have gone through a few phases of exploring certain artists and still love early Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5 and more recently Finland’s Paperi T and some of what Death Grips has to offer, but there is just so much more going on here than any one genre and the overall essence of Fetish Bones is more punk than anything else. Besides, Moor Mother’s music itself is bewitching in a way that draws comparison with the likes of DJ Screw, Hype Williams and Norwegian experimental artist Jenny Hval, for whom Moor Mother is opening over in the States. I can only implore you to put aside your proclivities for metal (if that’s what draws you to our humble site) and step into the weird, magical and painfully real world of Moor Mother. You will not regret doing so.
photo by d1l0
Check out the haunting video to By the Light here: