astralblak - Seeds
Written by Chi Chi on November 20, 2018
astralblak is the Minneapolis group formerly known as ZULUZULUU, consisting of Greg Grease, Proper-T, Just Nine, MMYYKK, and Elliott. They first started playing together back in 2014, and then released their debut album, What’s The Price? in 2016. After rebranding, they know come back with their sophomore album, Seeds.
When astralblak released their first album, the established themselves as a unique entity, a group where vocals, instrumentation, and production duties were spread around the five members, as they explored the worlds of jazz, funk, afrobeat, soul, and hip hop. They continue down this path on Seeds, as they both refine and expand upon this foundation that was laid on the first album. Most of the album eschews pop convention, instead opting for song structure more like that of prog rock or modal jazz, where songs are sometimes built around musical phrases or ideas, but the direction they go is hard to predict. To build these songs, they take the futuristic and eerie sounds of synthesizers, add drum machine funk and turntable scratching, and then pick their moments to add live instrumentation like guitar or flute or strings. Vocally, they are just as interesting, with soaring powerhouse vocals coming from Proper-T, ethereal raps from Greg Grease, and wonderfully tight harmonies across the group. As would be expected, they are lyrically abstract as well, painting philosophical questions with beautiful imagery with their phrasing. At different points across the album, they’ll remind you of TV on the Radio, Prince, Parliament, Living Colour, or Stevie Wonder, just to name a few, but at the same time astralblak is always putting their own spin on it. It’s an album that’s so unique and jampacked full of musical information, you can’t help but listen to it over and over again, picking up something new each time.
astralblak is one of the best things to emerge out of Minneapolis in recent years, and they continue to improve with their sophomore album. It’s inventive, soulful, and challenging, while also delivering moments of clarity and pure funk as well.
astralblak - Seeds