I became enamored with BLK JKS after hearing last year’s stateside releases, Mystery and After Robots. With those two releases, this Johannesburg band exposed their knack for writing compelling songs in a variety of genres. They could knock out a post-rock flavored track to be quickly followed by an angular indie stunner. Zol!, their latest EP, is no exception.
While some may have wondered why South Africa’s BLK JKS had been previously compared to TV on the Radio, one listen to their new EP’s opening track, “Iietys,” will dispel any more confusion. While not copying TV on the Radio’s kinetic sound, the band certainly seems to channel them at times, especially their rangey vocal overlapping. Yet, just as soon as they prove the rule, they then dispel it with the follow-up track, the atmospheric prog-rocker “Bogobe.” That’s the thing about BLK JKS, they don’t subscribe to just one sound. While some might consider it scattered, I consider it versatile. Even the closing ‘demo,’ “Mzabalazo,” feels like an incredibly polished song compared to songs by a lot of other bands.
That versatility continues with the title track, a Paul Simon / Mbaqanga flavored song that has a soccer anthem feel, revealing why this EP is being released on the same day the band is playing the World Cup. “Paradise” combines the prog tendencies with modern rock in ways that seem fresh and untapped. The repeated phrase, “I don’t wanna die / in the hands of a stranger tonight” are delivered in a way that recalls Editors or Interpol, yet the music is reminiscent of a Pink Floyd / Police mashup. The song is easily the most intriguing on the album, a collision of styles and genres that would seemingly clash, but become engrossing in BLK JKS’ capable hands. Zol! is, if nothing else, and I would claim it’s far more, a welcome appetizer between album meals.
TV on the Radio – Young Liars
Fishbone – Fishbone EP
Interpol – Interpol EP
Terrance Terich firmly believes that 1985 is the best year for music. He lives near Seattle with his books, movies, and music.