© 2024 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jake Blount, 'The Man Was Burning'

The theorist and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun coined the term "chronopolitics" to describe Afrofuturism's multi-directional sense of time — its way of both exposing the long legacy of racism and surviving it by nimbly moving beyond a strictly linear view of history's effects. Jake Blount, an Afrofuturist in roots-music garb, turns the early African-American songbook of blues, spirituals and field songs into a Dr. Who-like Tardis in recordings that engage with those old styles while warping, distilling and even exploding them.

His latest single is a reimagining of "Rise, Run Along, Mourner," a fiery gospel blues piece collected nearly 90 years ago by John Lomax from 71-year old Virginia prison inmate Joe Lee. Blount expands his primarily acoustic sound to incorporate looping and beats; unable to gather usual collaborators due to the pandemic (save one — Joseph DeJarnette plays bass), Blount found old souls within the digital devices he employed. "I looped different clapping patterns to emulate the polyphonic clapping you hear on recordings of Black religious services, especially Gullah Geechee ensembles," he writes in an email. "I added in the rock and roll beat on the kick drum and some classic tambourine to increase the church vibes." Tweaking Lee's God-smitten lyrics to resonate in an era of climate-destroying over-consumption, on "The Man Was Burning" Blount spans the centuries to create an apocalypse for now.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.