New Track and New Words From BLXPLTN

BLXPLTN are probably one of the best and most original bands to come out of the large, diverse-yet-disparate Afropunk milieu over the past year. Not quite punk rock, not quite industrial, not quite IDM, the band label themselves "futurepunk." This is both fitting and of obvious interest for anyone tiring of art and politics that use retreads of the past as a rote blueprint. While I certainly wouldn't call BLXPLTN's music utopian, their sound and outlook see utopia's mirror opposite, dystopia, not as some warning but something very much already in existence in the here and now. That's a subtle difference from the way in which popular culture tends to treat the subject of dystopia, but a fairly powerful one if you ask me. Add the lyrics to that equation (a fairly blunt tying together of the racism faced by Muslims and Arabs and that faced by Black people) and there's a real sense of an intersectional attempt to grapple with the notion that there can and must be something beyond the repressive impasse of "post-racialism."

A few more of their thoughts on that matter can be read in their recent piece for Huffington Post's "Black Voices" blog. I won't restate what they've already said, but I will say that what struck me most as someone preoccupied with finding the organic connection between politics and musical expression was the way in which the group naturally progressed from their own need for emotional and creative catharsis into a forum of collective struggle. The way in which the group ties the criminalization of Black human beings to the subsequent scapegoating and co-optation of Black art and culture is equally deft:

There is a tangible shift when one realizes he or she is not alone. For us, stories of police brutality, institutional injustice and inherent racism aren't just something to glance over in the news feed; this is every day of our lives. The boot that pushes down on your back is the same boot that pushes down on ours. The only hope we have is in standing together against an unjust, inequitable system. Perhaps that's why the music of rebellion touches us in a different way. The dismantling and reimagining of these systems takes bodies. Bodies organizing, bodies marching, bodies put in harm's way. This frenzy of protest parallels the organized chaos of a punk show. The black body is a beautiful thing, yet it is feared rather than revered. To that end, can we say the same for black music?

Absolutely a worthwhile read.

If capitalism is performative, then the revolution will be a masterpiece. "Atonal Notes" is Red Wedge editor Alexander Billet's blog on music, poetry and performance. Follow: @UbuPamplemousse