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Rock band BLK JKS returns with retro‑futuristic album

Increasingly popular in South Africa, BLK JKS will breathe new life into the Johannesburg music scene with their upcoming album, Abantu/Before Humans.

BLK JKS, pronounced “Black Jacks,” provides space for the individuality of each member, particularly guitarist Mpumi Mcata, who dresses like Black Uhuru did in the 80s. Their first album, After Robots, was a great success all over the world. Rolling Stone magazine called BLK JKS the “best new African band” after their collaboration with Alicia Keys during the 2010 World Cup. Performing mainly at festivals and nightclubs in South Africa, they have also played with the Malian legend Ali Farka Touré and American band The Roots. BLK JKS are also a source of inspiration for Urban Village.

Now, BLK JKS sets foot on on new a journey with Abantu/Before Humans, a retro-futuristic album that the band defines as follows: “A fully translated and transcribed obsidian rock audio anthology chronicling the ancient spiritual technologies and exploits of prehistoric and post-revolutionary Afro-bionics, as well as the sacred texts of the Great Book of the Arcanum, by young Kushites from Azania, linked to the 5th dimension and the 3rd dynasty.” This project is dedicated to the tenth anniversary of their debut album After Robots, in partnership with Glitterbeat Records and We Are Busy Bodies. Grooves, horns and guitars serve a plurality of genres, from spiritual jazz to kwaito to post-apocalyptic funk.

Bassist Makananise reveals the secret ingredient of their band: “In jazz, there are suspended chords and other things that give you a kind of discord. If Mpumi is playing his fears when I come in, sometimes I have to play what I’m feeling too, but in the process, I have to find out where he is. That’s where the jazz comes in.” Metal and traditional South African music are also present. Guitarist Mcata states: “Forget the idea that we’re going to make the rastas like our rock. If you have a gig, call us. A jazz event, anything, we become the color of the gig. We don’t have a home.

Pre-order Abantu/Before Humans, ahead of its May 21 release via Glitterbeat Records et We Are Busy Bodies.

Listen to BLK JKS in our Songs of the Week on Spotify and Deezer.