“We’re here protesting and sharing stories, but when everything else is so loud, how do you penetrate through?”
This is how Philadelphia artist Camae Ayewa - or Moor Mother as you’ll most likely know her - broke down the title of her new record earlier this year, as well as the context from which it arises. It's one of terror, suffocation, and the sense of screaming in a liquid vacuum.
But suffice to say, if there’s any record out there to penetrate that vacuum - it’s this one.
Opener ‘Repeater’ kicks off with intent, all sci-fi paranoia and death-rattle sax. A violin screeches and scrapes its way across the track while Moor Mother - a medium for voices past, present and future - is omnipresent.
‘Analog Fluids’ builds upon the ground broken on 2016’s ‘Fetish Bones’, one of that year’s great anomalies. Conceptually, both records are tied up in the Black Quantum Futurism movement she herself is a key part of. Through performance, workshops, and philosophical text, Black Quantum Futurism posits time as cyclical, severed from the Western notion of a clear linear trajectory. This allows the ‘D.I.Y time traveller’ to bypass standard notions of temporality and unravel once obscured histories. “Linear time is oppressive”, Ayewa stresses, a device to serve those in a position of power.
Across ‘Analog Fluids’, historical parallels are traced. ‘LA92’ taps into the “nightmare shit” of the riots that followed after the LAPD’s assault on Rodney King. It’s done so with pointed clarity, the chorus a communal chant charred by electrical voltage, while Ayewa lists the horrors with a pained rasp. ‘Engineered Uncertainty’, meanwhile, takes a sample of the spiritual ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve seen’ then superimposes it upon the present with an atom-splitter blast of power-electronics.
An omnivorous approach to genre, these ‘liberation technologies’, makes a perfect sense given how history is stacked up in a Moor Mother track, musical styles embedded with a “secret coding”, a capacity “to heal or transport”. The compact methods of punk band Bad Brains are essential, as are Public Enemy’s subversive use of sloganeering. Ayewa makes a similar use of language on the record, ideas sliced down into these condensed manifestos then subjected to drill repetition, each lyric or track title an information supernova.
‘After Images’ is broiled rage incarnate: “Remember me fresh from the grave,” she raps over the bulldozer beat, “fresh from the blood and sweat of a slave”. ‘The Myth Holds Weight’ meanwhile speaks of “Looping trauma,” a need to “escape the drama”. Methods of liberation are recurrent throughout, up against this monolithic opposition, these “negative cycles” of history which bare down “like all the money from cotton”.
Fresh off the back of recent work with Zonal and The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ayewa’s commitment to collaboration carries through on ‘Analog Fluids’, with stellar contributions from the likes of rapper Reef the Lost Cauze, Godflesh-founder Justin Broadrick, as well as the poet, musician and actor Saul Williams. Above all, however, the record is the most realised and singularly minded vision yet from the Moor Mother project, a documentation of venomous rage, yes, but also one in search of a means of escape, one found through the redemptive power of community.
Words: Eden Tizard
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