Moor Mother & YATTA - Dial Up

  • Dream-led invocations eviscerating the lines between past, present and future.
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  • In her vital text, Lose Your Mother, cultural historian Saidiya Hartman comes across a testimony from her great-great-grandmother, within which her relative insists on not remembering "a thing" about slavery. Upon discovering what she presumed to be fabricated amnesia, Hartman questions the purpose of focusing on the past. "If ruin was my sole inheritance and the only certainty the impossibility of recovering the stories of the enslaved," she writes, "did this make my history tantamount to mourning? Or worse, was it melancholia I would never be able to overcome?" Despite her brief reservations, Hartman moves forward with her research, continuing to draw connections between the slave trade in Ghana and the present. As concerned as Moor Mother and Yatta's recent project, DIAL UP, is with the past and present, it also goes a step further, looking toward the future. Dreams are the most prominent landscape of the record, providing a reliable landmark for time travel. "27 (reprise)" is one example of this, following an intimate retelling of a dream in which present selves become one and the same as future selves, which as the dream permits, can also become past selves. Whereas Yatta invokes escape and fantasy by way of her floaty falsetto, Moor Mother contributes grim realities with spoken word, and signature sample touches seen in Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes, like the frequent use of negro spirituals and gospel. A burst of light amid despair, Yatta's vocals earnestly glisten above the crackling specters of what sounds like a negro spiritual in "Strong For Too Long." After repeating the track's namesake, she ends the refrain with the relaxed idleness of someone who has worked all day and knows their imminent respite is deserved, with a final resignation, "I'm laying down." She also manipulates her voice into odd rhythmic tools, like in "We," which at times sounds like she's desperately attempting to tell a story but someone keeps covering her mouth with each syllable. By way of contrast, Moor Mother's voice is deep and gravelly, carrying dense content in tracks like "Henrietta." With bleeping, overturning production that bears to mind DJ Marcelle, she begs listeners to say the name of Henrietta Lacks, a Black American woman whose cancer cells were involuntarily removed in 1951, and would subsequently be used to advance modern medicine. "More" sits like a tranquil creek near the close of the album, softly bubbling with harmonized hums, trickling ambient and gentle affirmations from Moor Mother, who suddenly sounds like she's whispering directly into your ear. Circling back to Hartman's original question, these two musicians appear to comprehend how speaking new life into our ancestral pasts, no matter how dismal, can prove instrumental when constructing visions for future liberation.
  • Tracklist
      01. Dialing Up To You 02. Strong For Too Long 03. We 04. Henrietta 05. Warriors Of Our Dreams 06. 27 07. More 08. Some Of These Days 09. 27 (Reprise) feat. Charmaine Bee