Philadelphia/NY/DC free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements release their new album Open The Gates and title track – accompanied by a music video directed by Cyrus Moussavi – gives the appropriate signals for more deeply spiritual, ambient-conscious-jazz for the peerless International Anthem label. The album also showcases a raw, organic punk-jazz sound, with first-time experiments with electronics and synthesisers.
Open The Gates was recorded in a single day, at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, on January 5th, 2021. It is Irreversible Entanglements’ third full length album and their first double LP length album, across 73 minutes.
The band feature poet/vocalist Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother), trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes – who released their duo debut Heritage of the Invisible II on International Anthem last year – plus saxophonist Keir Neuringer, and bassist Luke Stewart.
Alex Smith writes in the liner notes that the album “is ethereal shards of jagged onyx, a melancholic exploration of the post-colonial debris that surrounds us. Let’s watch and listen, as this platter snakes through the sandy ashes of possible histories, dialogs with a nervous present, and asks to be birthed into a holographic new future. “Together in holy sound!”, the band stitches patient anthems out of atmosphere. Pulling from a wider sonic vocabulary than on previous excursions, the agit-jazz found here is simultaneously pre-and post-apocalypse, as bass lurches in a tranced-out loop, horns are up in the track grooves like poltergeists playing in the streets, poetry cascades like a warrior call at a satsang, the drums both wild and refined pulse with uhuru-heart cadence. This is Irreversible Entanglements on new ground; same as the old ground.”
The Philadelphia, New York, and DC-based five-piece bring a range of talents and influences. Poet Camae Ayewa, a/k/a Moor Mother, is a leading light of Afrofuturist music, art, and community activism. In-demand bassist, Luke Stewart, has been a radio and concert presenter and boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of music. Saxophonist Keir Neuringer is renowned for an avant-garde technique that matches a fierce socio-political determination. Trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes joined the band as an already long-standing duo, bringing musicianship rooted in classic jazz and Latin and Afro-Carribbean streams.
Their 2017 self-titled debut Irreversible Entanglements – which was recorded in a single session, the first time the five musicians all played together – arrived to wide critical acclaim, hailed by many as one of the Best Albums of 2017 – including NPR, Wire Magazine, and Stereogum. In 2020, their follow-up album Who Sent You? was released amidst the early weeks of the pandemic but was nevertheless met again with wide critical praise and an appearance near the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts.
The album is out on November 12th and the band are live at the following shows:
Last month, Dos Santos – the Chicago-based alt-Latinx band known for their progressive composition and layering of Latin/American music – released their new album City Of Mirrors on International Anthem.
Single A Shot in the Dark was accompanied by a gorgeous stop-motion animated video, made by Miguel Jara of the Mexico City-based, Estudio Pneuma, in collaboration with Pilsen, Chicago-based mixed-media artist Amara Rebel Betty Martín. It’s sung distinctively in the Huapango huasteco style, with Dos Santos’ folkloric vibrations, to create the track’s futuristic sonic landscape.
The lyrical imagery of A Shot in the Dark – and their shared love of the technicolor Latino-Futurist aesthetics of Gabriel García Márquez’s 1967 novel 100 Years of Solitude – inspired Dos Santos’ work with Martín and Jara to create the video.
Dos Santos’ core band consists of drummer Daniel Villarreal, percussionist Peter “Maestro” Vale, bassist Jaime Garza, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Nathan Karagianis, and multi-instrumentalist/singer/lyricist Alex Chavez. A Shot in the Dark is co-written by Chavez and Karagianis with production by Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle, Nomo) and builds upon traditional music from Central Mexico.
“My go-to when I’m trying to imagine melodies is Huapango music,” explains Chavez, “It’s part of how I grew up, it’s music that’s important to me.”
‘A Shot in the Dark’ was a happy accident. “Nathan and I were actually working on another song, trying to find a sound on an electric keyboard to use, and we stumbled on the beginning vocal sample. Elliott pushed us in that direction,” Chavez says. Bergman then assembled a beat and cut the sample into a loop, with Chavez offering the track’s central falsetto, noting: “I’ve never sang that way in Dos Santos, but – in the spirit of experimenting – we just went there and it fit perfectly.”
For Chavez – a scholar who has produced albums for Smithsonian Folkways and conducted extensive ethnographic work on the music of the Texan U.S./Mexican borderlands (where he is from) – the synthesis of his culture and musical experimentation has been a fertile one and give us a vision of more to come.