So here we go, with the sad confessional. We all know them, those bands that pass you by on the first listen and then later you kick yourself for not recognizing their brilliance. BLK JKS, for me at least, definitely falls into that category. I heard about these guys months ago, way before Mystery came out for that matter (go buy it, it’s amazing), but for some reason I just never ‘got’ it. Maybe it was too unique, or maybe I’m just an idiot (both are valid explanations) but now presentme is wondering what pastme was smoking.
BLK JKS sound is COMPLETELY original. I know I say that a lot , but these guys actually deserve it. I’m trying to avoid superficial comparison to Vampire Weekend, but it seems like BLK JKS present everything I’ve wanted in the slew of Afro-Pop bands that seem to be emerging lately (Vampire Weekend heading that group of course) but never got. Perhaps it’s because these guys are South African. It’s not a sound their trying to emulate, it’s a sound that they are surrounded by, it is the sound of their culture. I mean, as much as I love and adore Ezra Koenig, there’s no way he could have managed the Bantu wail on Lakeside. Western bands struggle just to appraoch the cultural and musical frame of reference these guys are born with, it’s in their bones. I guess that’s why Mystery was so fun for me to listen to, it was so deep and rich and totally natural. Where other bands fall into some sort of upbeat parody of South African music, BLK JKS seem to thrive. But it’s not just this cultural integrity that really made me love this record, it’s the layering of textures, the electronic aspect and the psychedelia. It all helps to create a sound-scape of immense beauty, giving this EP a depth that I haven’t heard in a while.
I can’t wait for their debut, and I hope that you’ll learn from my mistake and won’t let BLK JKS pass you by!