Stories » Shabaka & The Ancestors narrate the apocalypse from a distant future / Pitchfork

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Shabaka & The Ancestors narrate the apocalypse from a distant future / Pitchfork

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The British-Barbadian jazz saxophonist and his South African players narrate the apocalypse from a distant future, suggesting that in order to build anew, some things will first need to burn.

In West Africa, histories have been passed down through generations by griots, storytellers who collect the wisdom of the past in order to help shape our fates. Even after the advent of the written word, such storytellers were the safest manner of recording knowledge-scrolls could be lost, and libraries could burn, but oral histories were shared by the collective consciousness, written in our genes, able to survive individual tragedies to persist through time. In that sense, griots are more than just historians-they're the library.

We Are Sent Here by History, the second album from Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors, is a record steeped in that tradition, a living history looking backward in time from a not-too-distant future. Coincidentally released amid the proliferation of a global pandemic, it takes on new meanings: a collective record of the apocalypse, a sonic time capsule left to be found buried in the sand by some future explorer. The group's first LP, Wisdom of the Elders, served as a warning of things to come, but this tale reads as a statement of fact, a record of the wrongs and missteps that led to our own demise.

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