Half the fun of listening to South Africa’s BLK JKS is trying to imagine just what these guys listen to. Have they really been subsisting on a steady diet of The Mars Volta and TV On The Radio for the last few years? Or, due to whatever culture filters exist between Western shores and the tip of Africa, are they listening to an even stranger jumble—some radio station that plays Pere Ubu, Led Zeppelin, and U2? The band traveled to New York’s famed Electric Lady Studios to record its debut LP under the tutelage of Secret Machines’ Brandon Curtis, but high-profile production or no, it’s impossible (and inadvisable) to gloss over the group’s inherent, endearing all-elbows approach to prog. Funky and raw, After Robots offers equal turns of horn-blaring polyrhythmic pileups (“Molalatladi”), tone-bent apocalyptic grinders (“Banna Ba Modimo”), epically soulful space-dub (“Skeleton”), and slowed-down post-rock pastorals (“Cursor”). That killer instrumental prowess, coupled with Lindani Buthelezi’s whispered baritone and dancing falsetto—delivered in both Zulu and English—makes for too much talent, too many ideas, and a constantly roiling pool of influences. Basically, everything fans would want to root for in a young band.
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