Album of the Week 20-24 July
Zara McFarlane – Songs Of An Unknown Tongue [Brownswood Recordings] Morning Mari*’s album of the week for 20-24 July is coming from our beloved Brownswood Recordings, Zara McFarlane‘s “Songs Of An Unknown Tongue“. Since Zara McFarlane’s last release in 2017, she’s been on a journey into the folk and spiritual traditions of her ancestral motherland,…
Zara McFarlane – Songs Of An Unknown Tongue [Brownswood Recordings]
Since Zara McFarlane’s last release in 2017, she’s been on a journey into the folk and spiritual traditions of her ancestral motherland, Jamaica. Songs of an Unknown Tongue, her fourth album, is the outcome of a deep dive into the esoteric history of the Caribbean isle. It is a rumination on history and black heritage which speaks in richly patterned electronic beats and McFarlane’s characteristically crystalline vocals.
Research centred around The National Library of Jamaica and the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston for audio and video samples, led her to discover an array of rhythms associated with old Jamaican rituals: Bruckins, Dinki Mini, Revival, Kumina and Nyabinghi. Though initially she struggled to differentiate between them, slowly but surely the rhythms began to speak to her. “I listened really carefully, deeply, and began to hear the emphasis and accents,” she says.
Back home in London, Zara collaborated with producers Kwake Bass and Wu-Lu to deconstruct the elements of the folk rhythms from her research and transfer them into new formats. While each track has a story of its own, the album overall speaks not only to Jamaican folk histories but to contemporary issues of empire, colonialism, race and identity.
Songs of an Unknown Tongue is a reflection on Zara’s journey to piece together her heritage. This album marks a new chapter in this multi-award winning artist’s story; from an originator in the Jazz scene, honing her craft with Tomorrow’s Warriors, to being unafraid to take her time to be experimental and create a bold new sound that reflects her own journey to connect with her history. A timely expression of the personal and political, it is clear Songs Of An Unknown Tongue is both a letter she has written to herself, and to us.
[Written by Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff 2020]
1. Everything Is Connected
2. Black Treasure
3. My Story
4. Broken Water
6. Run Of Your Life
7. State Of Mind
8. Native Nomad
9. Roots Of Freedom