label: hhi

producers: the unseen

1. Trance Form
2. Invisibility
3. Talkin' Heads
4. Isolated
5. E.V.I.L.
6. Silhouettes Of Protest
7. Drapetomania
8. Children Of The Night
9. Autonomy



Stephen Spielberg intended "Amistad" to be for the American slaves, what "Schindler's List" was for the Jews: an emotional honest and touching movie, that was as much entertaining, as such a horrible part of our history can be. It was to pay homage to the victims, and to the still living people that share this tragedy as their cultural heritage. Maybe with even enough quality, that it could be a document for future generations to view, whenever the topic was intended to be visualized. But Spielberg failed. "Amistad" could have only been worse, if he'd had picked a white guy to play the main slave and had him act in blackface. Hence feature generations will have to turn somewhere else, when they want an artful approach of this topic. And while the piece of art that we are about to speak on in a minute isn't exclusively about the slave past of the US, The Unseen's "Drapetomania", is still touching upon it. And the title of the album refers to the 'illness', that was attributed to the runaway slaves that fled the 'save haven' of being provided to, into an uncertain freedom.

This music doesn't intend to be beautiful and clean. It speaks on a harshness that wouldn't fit well with beautiful music. There's pain throughout this, renditions that are suffering, funk that is gritty and uncomfortable like walking barefoot on a gravel road: "One can imagine the face of the faceless, the tracks, the footprints of the slave that escaped with.... no shoes. For blood paints them tracks, like scars paint them backs, like camps keep us trapped, but we beyond that now - supposedly", so Malik Ameer says on "Trance Form". The music is bare, it's an empty vessel with the lyrics only filling few of the gaps. And it's fragile too, easy to be overloaded. "Invisibility" is adding a little more to the music, but it's "Isolated" gets more intense, quicker and featuring more demanding and urging sounds.

It's "Talkin' Heads" where the keyboard piano is adding more musicality, while the words are very barely being flowed, this being so much more spoken poetry. And the words say: "they fear solidarity with clarity, thus we tear we apart, the bourgeoisies never unite with their workers, yet we all build the companies, so we build this country, thus in the name of our ancestors, we shall deconstruct this country". True melancholy can be heard on "E.V.I.L.", while on "Drapetomania" we are leaving the current struggle behind and return to the pain of one of the slaves: "they sold my motha, hung my fatha, raped my sista and lynched my brotha, so what I'm post to do, they said if I so even look at masta wrong, they'll kill me too". Malik combines the track with cotton field singing, that makes the song sound spiritual, giving it consciously the wrong appearance. "Autonomy" is smooth, political and ends the album with the words: "yeah, only if freedom would pay our rent. And put food on the table, plus pay for the internet and digital cable, and put our kids thru college and keep our families stable, thus such fantasies will never be accomplished, until we learn how to take nothin'."

This record is something very uncomfortable for you. It makes it even hard for us to approach it and appreciate it as something that's supposed to entertain us. Unless we can take this in, as something to be listened to with the same respect and open soul, as we'd be listening to someone telling us about his struggles from past days in person. What then also means that we have to give this album a different kind of respect (but no rating). Unless you can be ignorant enough to not give a damn.

review: tadah

2000 - 2012.08 by urban smarts | contact