In Review: Sons Of Kemet - Black To The Future

The London jazz quartet's latest offering is a resounding reminder that music doesn’t need many words to make a statement.
Posted: 22 May 2021 Words: Wes Foster

Sons Of Kemet are exceptionally good at setting the tone for an entire album, a large majority of which is instrumental, through only a first few stanzas. Though taking more traditional rhythms and vocalisations, it is these initial lines that ground their work in greater, real, and tangible ideas surrounding race and culture. Otherwise, it would be easy for Black To The Future to be seen as a non-political album. It is precisely these vocal interludes through their albums that cements their work as cultural commentary through every note.

A staple of contemporary English jazz, Sons Of Kemet have been leaders in its resurgence and modernisation in recent years. As their lyrics attest, they are the result of a tried format being given a thoroughly modern take. Whereas previous albums fleetingly employ lyrics and vocals, Black To The Future marks a radical shift in the band towards much more lyrical offerings through many different collaborators on the record. Not many albums can do this well, as they tend to be left feeling disconnected. Instead, BTTF feels more like a movement, connecting together otherwise abstract diaspora and carving a rich tapestry of tales. Where their work has always had a latent aggression, it begins to be much more present here, and is held to be much more vocal in its form. Sons Of Kemet, led by Shabaka Hutchings, seem only able to go from strength to strength - it is this drive for change that sets them apart from most other artists.

Not many artists can create something that is as musically full, and as ethically driven as Black To The Future. The balance that Sons Of Kemet between the political and musicianship is struck perfectly. Resoundingly, the album is a reminder - in an age of albums which often say nothing - that music doesn’t need many words to make a statement.

Black To The Future is out now via Impulse Records! / UMG Recordings.

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