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BLK JKS - Zol! Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.75
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 6.5
Production 7.5
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 75%
Member Ratings
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BLK JKS - Zol!

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (06/12/10)
BLK JKS - Zol!
Record Label: Secretly Canadian
Release Date: June 8, 2010

Who?

BLK JKS are an experimental indie rock quartet from Johannesburg, South Africa, following up last years full-length After Robots with a little EP just in time for the World Cup.

How Is It?

As an essentially typical American with a tendency to prefer the instantly gratifying, I find it more exciting than the actual World Cup itself.

Over the last few years, the term "Afro-pop" has come to conjure images of a certain boat shoe sporting act from New York City much more readily than anyone actually from Africa, and BLK JKS seem to be saying, "Who gives a fuck about them?" To be fair, their music isn't really comparable, as Veedub's sprightly, skittering tunes had enough crossover potential to score them a Number One album, while someone referring to Zol! as pop music would probably either be highly pretentious or perpetually friendless. BLK JKS use Afro-inspired rhythms as a springboard to create something decidedly more ambitious than music fashionable enough to listen to with a popped collar.

While I want to downplay the EP's pop appeal, I don't want to overstate my case, because there's no denying how mesmerizing it really is, even aside from the celebratory, soccer-centric title track, the closest thing to a conventional song BLK JKS have written. Songs like the huge opener "Iietys" defy you to even compare it to anything else. The drums are obviously huge and reverberating, the bellowing vocals are creepy and haunting, and the fractured guitars bleat in a way that's one part progressive, one part psychedelic. It's like a drugged-up collaboration between The Mars Volta and TV on the Radio, and somehow comes off as fresh, futuristic and borderline frightening despite its roots in the traditional music.

The subdued chant of "Bogobe" and the austere (and misleadingly titled) "Paradise" prove that BLK JKS can be just as successful when not channeling manic energy, as their penchant for the spacey and hypnotic remains intact. There's not a moment on Zol! that's not at least a little left of center, but its main selling point is that it's unusual without being inscrutable. Come for the mind-fuck; stay for the fun.

RIYLThe Mars Volta's Amputechture
Yeasayer's All Hour Cymbals
Battles' Mirrored


Track Listing1. Iietys (6:02)
2. Bogobe (4:16)
3. Zol! (3:16)
4. Paradise (6:57)
5. Mzabalazo (4:03)


Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 12 of 12
09:39 AM on 06/13/10
#2
FullCollaspe
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After Robots was a jam
04:52 AM on 06/14/10
#3
Gregory Robson
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I dig them. I liked the last EP a good bit. Anxious to give this a listen. But I am going to have to politely disagree on this being more exciting than the World Cup. No effing way. But hey, to each their own!
05:36 AM on 06/14/10
#4
Jeremy Aaron
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I dig them. I liked the last EP a good bit. Anxious to give this a listen. But I am going to have to politely disagree on this being more exciting than the World Cup. No effing way. But hey, to each their own!
While there's certainly a lot of hype and excitement over it, I think it far outweighs the actual matches themselves. Just me of course, but I'd rather watch something where one minor mistake by someone results in points for the other team. In soccer, it seems the constellations have to line up just right for a goal to be scored. I forced myself to watch some Saturday, but I just gave up. Not only are there hardly any goals, there are hardly any shots taken. Way, way too boring for me. Maybe if the field were a quarter of its current size, things could be interesting.
05:56 AM on 06/14/10
#5
Pawan1993
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While there's certainly a lot of hype and excitement over it, I think it far outweighs the actual matches themselves. Just me of course, but I'd rather watch something where one minor mistake by someone results in points for the other team. In soccer, it seems the constellations have to line up just right for a goal to be scored. I forced myself to watch some Saturday, but I just gave up. Not only are there hardly any goals, there are hardly any shots taken. Way, way too boring for me. Maybe if the field were a quarter of its current size, things could be interesting.
The passion with which is goal is defended, each shot is taken, each pass made by far surpasses most of anything I have ever seen. Yeah that was dramatic but the point is the World Cup is gold.
05:59 AM on 06/14/10
#6
Gregory Robson
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The passion with which is goal is defended, each shot is taken, each pass made by far surpasses most of anything I have ever seen. Yeah that was dramatic but the point is the World Cup is gold.
Totally agree. As much as I love every second of the game, I also love watching the fans in their colorful regalia, jumping and singing along, without a care in thew orld. No matter what match, you're always going to see plenty of revelers. Having been to a World Cup match in 1994, I have to say it was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. So glad someone else sees its uniqueness.
06:04 AM on 06/14/10
#7
Pawan1993
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Totally agree. As much as I love every second of the game, I also love watching the fans in their colorful regalia, jumping and singing along, without a care in thew orld. No matter what match, you're always going to see plenty of revelers. Having been to a World Cup match in 1994, I have to say it was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. So glad someone else sees its uniqueness.
Thank you. :)
Watching Maradona go ballistic with each chance Argentina had was was worth every minute of my life. I'm jealous you've been to one but then again Australia might have it in 2022. Also USA seem to be doing very well so far, albeit to a brain freeze by Green. Either way, the World Cup is probably one of the greatest sporting tournaments ever.
06:06 AM on 06/14/10
#8
Gregory Robson
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Thank you. :)
Watching Maradona go ballistic with each chance Argentina had was was worth every minute of my life. I'm jealous you've been to one but then again Australia might have it in 2022. Also USA seem to be doing very well so far, albeit to a brain freeze by Green. Either way, the World Cup is probably one of the greatest sporting tournaments ever.
Yes it is, and omg, Maradona is hilarious to watch. God it's priceless. Hope you Aussies get it in 2022. I have my fingers crossed.
06:10 AM on 06/14/10
#9
Pawan1993
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Yes it is, and omg, Maradona is hilarious to watch. God it's priceless. Hope you Aussies get it in 2022. I have my fingers crossed.
Yes he's controversial but I guess it's why we love him even more. We can even relate it to music. The passion is evident in the finer details and Jesse Lacey can be Maradona lol.
Thanks :) if we do, I'll definitely go, take pics and upload them on this site.
07:35 AM on 06/14/10
PaperRival-Jake
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I know each record is reviewed from a certain viewpoint. So, for instance, a band like Valaska could essentially have a higher score than this band. Still, I don't see how.
07:52 AM on 06/14/10
Jeremy Aaron
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I know each record is reviewed from a certain viewpoint. So, for instance, a band like Valaska could essentially have a higher score than this band. Still, I don't see how.
I've never listened to this Valaska, so I couldn't say. Different reviewers is obviously a factor. I also feel it's kind of necessary to scale down the score for an EP a little. To score it high-80s, for example, would seem to imply that it accomplishes in five tracks what great albums do in ten. Without a doubt, though, the band is a lot of fun to listen to.
01:38 PM on 06/14/10
PaperRival-Jake
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I've never listened to this Valaska, so I couldn't say. Different reviewers is obviously a factor. I also feel it's kind of necessary to scale down the score for an EP a little. To score it high-80s, for example, would seem to imply that it accomplishes in five tracks what great albums do in ten. Without a doubt, though, the band is a lot of fun to listen to.
I agree 100%. Very well written review and I love BLK JKS. They had one of my AOTY's last year.
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