BLK JKS, "After Robots"

Album Review

Johannesburg natives BLK JKS (pronounced "black jacks") have been creating stateside buzz since performing at South by Southwest and appearing on the cover of the Fader magazine last year. Produced by Secret Machines' Brandon Curtis, "After Robots" justifies the blogosphere hype by offering a wholly unique sound that veers among prog rock, funk and jazz. Songs like "Molalatladi" and "Lakeside" rely on lilting vocal harmonies that recall tribal chants, while "Kwa Nqingetje" is an epic with slowly unraveling arrangements. At the heart of the album's combination of genres is BLK JKS' South African influence, manifested in the band's use of polyrhythms and a driving horn section. Althouh the set's complex instumentation finds BLK JKS occasionally losing their footing, their confidence in their craft largely covers up any glaring errors. "After Robots" positions the act as an organic, impressive response to the African influence in American rock music. --Jason Lipshutz