Black Metamorphosis (Album, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2019)
Savvy Contemporary Berlin event-
Lamin Fofana presents BLACK METAMORPHOSIS, the first installment of an album trilogy inspired in part by Sylvia Wynter’s unpublished manuscript of the same title written in the 1970s.
In his latest album, he contemplates the complicated process of understanding each other, while also desiring to accelerate the breaking of the world so we can move beyond the constraints of our time and dream up new sets of relationships. Lamin’s overlapping interests in history and contemporary circumstances and practice of transmuting text into the affective medium of sound brought him to “Black Metamorphosis” and the wider project of Black Studies. Sylvia Wynter’s “Black Metamorphosis: New Natives in a New World” is an unpublished 900-plus page manuscript written in the 1970s which is arguably one of the most important and most compelling interpretations of the black experience in the Western hemisphere.
What happens when black people find themselves in the West? What ways are African aesthetics forced to permutate, outside the margins and in the in-between spaces, and what transformative potential lies on the outskirts of normative existence, in the “liminal zones”?
Reflecting on the sonorous power of Sylvia Wynter, BLACK METAMORPHOSIS , which is the title piece on this release, this is an attempt to transmute Lamin’s interpretation of a concept he finds deeply inspiring and illuminating of his own experience as a black African in contemporary Europe.
Brancusi Sculpting Beyonce (EP, Hundebiss Records, 2018, IT/DE)
“Brâncuși sculpting Beyoncé in gold lamé” is a line from Mike Ladd’s song “Blonde Negress” from the album Negrophilia. The album was inspired by Petrine Archer-Straw’s book of the same name (with the subtitle “Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s”).
The book explores the Paris art world’s embrace of black American and African culture — and its co-option of black art and culture, which played heavily into Art Deco, Cubism, jazz, etc. I read the book some years back, but I love how Mike Ladd warps it, drawing a long line between Beyonce and Brancusi, whose Sleeping Muse was inspired by African masks.
Doubleworld (Album, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2016, US/DE)
In October 2014, a physician was diagnosed with ebola in New York City. He had returned from working with Doctors Without Borders, in Guinea. I was living in Brooklyn at the time. I remember the amount of panic and confusion and outright fear-mongering this ignited – from city officials down to average New Yorkers in the subway. It was as if the entire city was about to be engulfed by the disease. The climate was toxic. While this was happening in New York, the outbreak was spreading and killing thousands of people in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. As an African immigrant living in the States with family in Sierra Leone and Guinea, I observe the events and moods reflected on both sides of the Atlantic. In the end, a Liberian man died in Dallas, a nurse’s dog died in Spain, while more than 11,000 people perished in West Africa.
New Horizons (EP, self-released, 2015)
Another World (EP, self-released, 2015)
This music was inspired by NASA’s New Horizons interplanetary space probe, its recent historic encounter with Pluto, and the excitement and optimism that brings. I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance between the suits the Johns Hopkins engineers wore while working on the spacecraft, and those of the doctors and nurses fighting Ebola in West Africa. While reaching into the universe and beyond is absolutely wonderful and vital, it makes one wonder how we can launch a spacecraft three billion miles into space, while thousands of people die from preventable diseases because generating vaccines for poor people is not a priority.
With this piece, I want to convey a certain mood, a feeling of being adrift at sea somewhere between catastrophe and paradise. We live in a complex world today, and depending on the lens you look through, the possible futures shift. The future can look dim and uncertain – because at the present things are not going so well for the people of planet earth.
I was thinking of the thousands of African migrants braving winter storms and twenty foot waves in overcrowded rickety vessels crossing the Mediterranean Sea and hoping to reach Europe, while European governments are deliberately letting them drown or locking them up to deter others from coming. It’s absolutely depressing and shameful what’s going on.
First Symphony (EP, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, US)
Like White Lightning Up a Black Snake’s Ass (Single, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2013, US)
Africans Are Real (EP, Dutty Artz, 2012, US)
Dubious Prey (EP, Sticks N Stones Recordings, 2012, UK)
What Elijah Said (EP, Dutty Artz, US, 2010)
What Elijah Said is Lamin Fofana’s debut release. This is lucid, detailed dance music. Three tunes are uptempo: a squiggling infectious electro riddim (either 85 or 170bpm), the slinky 125bpm 4×4 bonus track, and an exquisite piece of instrumental beatwork that sounds like a sober Flying Lotus. The title song bides its time with a well-paced electronic skank. Mysterious samples throughout suggest Lamin’s background in political strife and social upheaval.
Artwork: Boy holding florescent bulb, photo by Brendan Bannon, Dandora Dumpsite, Nairobi. 8/29/2006. Hundreds of trash pickers scavenge the dump for food, plastic, glass, and metal. Areas of the dump smolder from a slow burn of plastics and detritus just under the surface. Local activist have attempted to close the site due to pollution concerns.
Dutty Artz follow their tropical bass agenda to introduce the synth-seared fusions of Lamin Fofana. Originally from Guinea, via Sierra Leone, and now based in New York, Lamin puts a wealth of experience and environments into his sound, crossing bridges between Southern Bounce, African Hi-Tek, and sublime electronics with coherent ease. ‘Happy 2010//Dark Days Are Coming’ opens the set with a crushed rolling motion, like a halfspeed dread version of Shaangaan electro transferring far moodier vibes. ‘I Will Admonish You And Give You Absolution’ steps the pace to a more sinuous bounce mode with slowfast snare rolls and ultra-glaring synth motifs, before ‘What Elijah Said // Eye On The Devil’ takes the atmosphere far darker, electronic and downbeat, sounding strangely like Vladislav Delay meets Raime, if you get me? Closing matters on a melancholy dancefloor vibe, ‘Dance In Yr Blood’ gives Afro-Funky-compatible percussion topped with spherical metallic signals which we’d more commonly associate with techno, placing him out there like some darker adjunct to DVA. An effortlessly intriguing set, totally worth your time…