The Black Spirituals, a two-man band made up of Zachary James Watkins and Marshall Trammell, opened the “Black Lives Matter” program at Other Cinema last night. Serving as a benefit for NOW!, an online zine that marries experimental form with radical politics, the night’s programming showed off Black activist video and artful deconstructions of historical crimes against African Americans.
The Black Spirituals set the tone with their radical post-rock urgencies: improvisational, cacophonous and sophisticated. Incorporating textures of free jazz, hard rock, and electronica, their elongated sounds crashed over the audience like slow motion tsunamis. Percussive tidepools swelled into ecstatic gutteral rage, exerting more visceral protest than Peter Menchini’s Waking Up Chief Suhr, the video document showing Black Lives Matters activists outside the San Francisco police chief’s bedroom window at 4am. The root-tails of the Black Spirituals reach deep, tapping historical torments, which unleash sheer musical explosion, with audio levels assaulting the ears before ebbing back to ripples. I have long believed no instrument expresses raw suffering rubbed up with anger better than a grinding electric guitar, and this group proves it so.
Here is an interview of the Black Spirituals about their collaboration and process: http://alibi.com/music/47491/Postmodern-Black-Spirituals.html