irreversible entanglements strike back at 2019

December 12, 2019
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Irreversible Entanglements is one of contemporary Black music’s true, indefinable blessings. A noisy, free jazz quartet of all-star instrumentalists (saxophonist Keir Neuringer, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, bassist Luke Stewart, drummer Tcheser Holmes), fronted by the analog electronics and powerful poetry of Camae Ayewa (better known as Moor Mother), IE belongs to no scene, no genre, and no simple point of view. When at full flight, the group is a volcano of emotional sound — a radical, unapologetic Blackness of so-called avant-garde emanating from its every note and syllable, chronicling the pain, rapture and circumstance of our shared moment. Because of that, it’s impossible not to hear IE’s epic new single, “Homeless/Global” as both a document of, and a middle-finger to, the year that is about to come to a close.

The 23 spacious minutes of “Homeless/Global” are broken up into four or five sections, yet remain connected by distinct musical through-lines which demonstrate the group’s individual and collective glory. Stewart and Holmes possess a rhythmic drive with a desire to always make the group improvisation move — because if this is a free jazz, it’s also one related to the dance. Likewise, the horns, which are noisy and discordant, never lose themselves too deeply in fancy monologues — because like the best punk soloists, Neuringer and Navarro remember to serve the entire narrative not just their own instrumental sentiments. That narrative is most often penciled and colored by Ayewa’s words, connecting what may at first seem like disparate visions into a defiant worldview.

On “Homeless/Global,” she opens in a cyberpunk space she loves to explore, in the malleability of digital identity and avatars of artificial intelligence where “nobody wants to be who they are.” But soon enough it is presented as a place of inauthenticity, with no grounding in truth, real lives, real stories, real memories — a place where real people can’t find their way. Already lining our path with images of familiar Internet dread, Ayewa soon makes the hyper leap into 2019’s more overt headline-making global accounts — humans and migration and freedom, and how these are tied to forgotten memory and, of course, to forgotten history of Blackness. “Homeless/Global” emerges as a commentary on how 2019 is, timeline-speaking, not really all the different from 1492 or 1964. “No one remembers/Right now,” Ayewa clearly articulates — silently asking the question whether anyone will actually remember our era, her words, this sound, or if it’s all for naught.