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Irreversible Entanglements - Protect Your Light

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    Posted: 20 Sep 2023 at 10:05pm

recording of the week,Irreversible Entanglements - Protect Your Light

by Barney Whittaker 

The “liberation-oriented free-jazz collective" Irreversible Entanglements first entered a studio in 2017, but the social conscience that led to this initial outpouring of creativity had already been simmering away for some years now. Having formed in response to the slew of American police brutality which has been an all-too-familiar occurrence over the past decade, the shared notion of anti-establishment advocacy reified through a radical lens of Black experience would soon become the overarching theme to tie the message of Irreversible Entanglements’ work together. And now, signed to the respected jazz label Impulse! for the first time, the ensemble takes it to the next level, upping the ante in terms of scale and soul.


To this reviewer’s ear, the overall musicianship of Irreversible Entanglements could be described as being similar to the soul-stirring wails of Albert Ayler and his rejoicing spirits, whilst handily concocted with the often unpredictable bombast of a group such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Supplying the finishing touch to this assembly of freeness is the spoken-word poetry of Camae Ayewa AKA Moor Mother, an established artist and activist in her own right who has symbolically led the group with conviction since 2015, her assured vocal contributions marking a vital touchstone in their aesthetic identity. Since releasing their explosive self-titled debut EP six years ago, the group have quietly gone from strength to strength, briskly expanding their sonic profile through a barrage of radical energy and experimentation.


Protect Your Light is a record that carries the emotive torch ignited on the group’s last full-length release, Open The Gates (2021). Such vulnerability has been expressed in the past through Ayewa’s textual themes of trauma, survival and power before reaching today’s hopeful amalgamation of the three; emboldening oneself through strengthful resilience in the hope of arriving at the essence of love. Her oblique lyrical mannerisms are what sets the group apart as a modern-day counterpart to the legacies of radical performers of the past century, materialising at the intersection of politics and art. A tune like ‘Free Love’ engages in convulsive rhythmic displays and produces a caustic stream-of-consciousness where pleasure is rendered as a form of resistance. Elsewhere, ‘Our Land Back’, the second single to be released from the album, commences with an demonic passage of unapologetic textures which unravel above an extended drone of brash intensity, before giving way to an ominous ostinato from an oblique walking bass from Luke Stewart and the well-timed left hand of pianist Janice A. Lowe. Digging a little further into the core beliefs and values the ensemble takes for inspiration, it would appear that the tune’s message is a reference to the philosophy of Land Back, an activist movement which seeks to place stolen land back into the hands of Indigenous peoples. But it also applies more close to home, serving as a stark reminder of not only the current gentrification which borders on social cleansing and urban decay across large cities but of other historic territorial disputes, both across America and the rest of the world at large.

Most importantly, there is a social, cultural and most importantly a political fire in the belly of this album, as there is with all of Irreversible Entanglements’ content. What’s striking at this moment in time is how its vitality seems to possess neither the cause nor likelihood of dwindling for a long while yet.

Irreversible Entanglements will be playing as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival at EartH, Hackney on November 15th 2023.  

Protect Your Light 

Irreversible Entanglements

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC


Barney Whittaker

from www.prestomusic.com

Edited by snobb - 20 Sep 2023 at 10:07pm
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