the colours that rise’s ‘grey doubt’ is extraterrestrial and very black

May 4, 2020
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There are long, colorful threads of Afrofuturism woven into the very fabric of what we call Black creativity. These threads represent our collective fascinations with technology, space exploration, time travel, and our rich history of star-gazing,  as well as a collective desire for true, unfettered freedom.

Joining the ranks of sci-fi-influenced Black musicians like Sun Ra, George Clinton, Drexciya, Outkast, and Janelle Monae is U.K. producer duo Colours That Rise with their imaginative, effortlessly genre-hopping new album, Grey Doubt. 

The brainchild of multi-instrumentalists and producers Simeon Jones and Nathanael Williams, The Colours That Rise released their forward-looking EP 2020 in 2017, three years later they’ve delved further into the theme of futuristic Blackness as expressed through a seamless blend of hip-hop, jazz, future bounce, deep house, and techno featuring transcendent vocals from singers Yazmin Lacey (“Atmosphere”) and Andrew Ashong (“The Juice”).

Grey Doubt is a fully-fleshed out follow-up that functions as a story told through sound. “We wanted to make an audio documentary with some music about a secret history, or what some people might call a conspiracy theory, that black people live on Mars, they explain via email. “In a world full of creeping uncertainty about truth, half-truth, and post-truth, no information or history can be trusted, not even the fabric of reality. We’re just two guys with a broken tape machine and some information about a different world.”

Come for the story of extraterrestrial Blackness but stay for the expertly produced and arranged music. Whether it’s the jazzy spaced-out lo-fi boom-bap of “Hyper Lace” or the cybernetic bounce that brings together the analog and electronic elements of “Orion’s Belt and Beyond” this is an album made for the body, soul, and imagination. Close your eyes and listen and you can almost picture some cyborg of African-descent cruising through the cosmos listening to Grey Doubt while reclining in the driver’s seat of an ankh-shaped spacecraft. The music is truly transportive and very much timely for self-defining Black folk. “Their time of being able to manipulate us is coming to an end  . . . it’s our time,” says the narrator’s voice that opens the album with an introduction and closes it with the extended version of the epic deep house excursion “Deep Space” — and he’s right. there’s no time like the present to dream up future possibilities.

The Colours That Rise’s Grey Doubt is out Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section International and is available for purchase and streaming on Bandcamp.