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Review: Black Flowers – Artifacts

Black Flowers - Cone Magazine

Whereas their debut album Abyssinia Afterlife crafted a somewhat psychedelia atmosphere, Artifacts reflects on ancient and modern cultures.

The Belgian band release Artifacts on Sdban Ultra, combining a unique blend of African, Eastern and Jazz influences which seamlessly merge fantasy and reality. Referring to ancient object or tools, it presents Black Flowers’ presentation of different cultures, both past and present, combined with personal and collective memories. Quinton Scott of Strut Records describes the record as “at times, as heavy and as trippy as hell – and at others, intricate, subtle and abstract”. These words resonate throughout the album, as one can envision plenty of space and fantasy.

‘Bones’ opens the album with an oriental flute that takes you into a foreign world, one in which you can imagine yourself in a tropical and warm climate, slowly swaying in the sun with a desert in the backdrop. Playful, smooth and kind-hearted are words that come to mind upon listening, and this is a constant theme throughout the record. The vibe quickly picks up with ‘Alexandra’, which sends you into a spirited party as the jazzy sounds combined with the dub-esque vibes echo – the use of the organ and sax particularly stand out, giving the track an extra punch.

As the record progresses, the sense is gained that each track continuously takes you into another landscape, and that is acutely true with the concluding track ‘Lunar Eclipse’. Here, a very Eastern setting can be projected, while the oriental violin flutters and the jovial horns proceed. Reflecting on this majestic record, the influences of artists such as ‘father of Ethiojazz’ Mulatu Astatke, sax giant Getatchew Mekurya and of course, Fela Kuti are all apparent, and Black Flower produce a groove that formulates an eccentric and psychedelic identity, bursting with African Rhythm.

Described as “brilliant” by Gilles Peterson on BBC Radio 6, ‘Artifacts’ is just that – brilliantly coordinated international rhythms inspired by their distant travels and colourful city of Brussels. The album offers a melting pot of diverse cultures. The soundtrack attempts to link together ‘artifacts’ through their songs, and succeed in doing so with an old age human ritual: dancing!

Words by Matthew Barlow


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