ANTHONY JOSEPH & MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO seize the ‘TIME’ on his brand new album.
A couple of nights ago I popped Anthony Joseph’s new CD, ‘Time’, into the player. I am already a fan of this poet/ novelist/educator’s spoken word adventures but there was something different about this album. As I buzzed around my kitchen, buffeted by the words which are wrapped in the warm lilt of the poet’s Trinidadian accent, I felt something fresh was happening. Gone was the afrobeat I’d witnessed at his last live performance. It had been replaced by some spacey bass driven impressionistic funk and radical arrangements that circled the words like celestial planets. Unfolding the press release I see the name of flautist Majik Malik and then Meshell Ndegeocello – it all begins to fall into place. This was collaboration made in heaven. ‘Time’ is alive with stories that, alongside the percussion driven ‘Michael X’, feature an array of women: heroines, resistance fighters, mothers judged and shamed by crowds, suicidal wives and a Pakistani teenager – Malala Yousafzai – attacked by the Taliban. It’s radical. Tek ‘Time’ and listen.
“I’ve released five albums in the last seven years. Today, the 5th, ‘Time’ is released. And it could only be called ‘Time’. An apt title when you consider the drift of moments that has brought us here, that has brought me here to this point, to working with Meshell Ndegeocello, to recording the 11 songs/poems/word-movies in five days in Paris last spring.
“I’d met Meshell in September 2011. I was doing an interview at the Naive Records offices when she walked in unexpectedly to say how much she loved the then new album, Rubber Orchestras. It was a beautiful moment. I’d loved and lived through her music since ‘Plantation Lullabies’, her music had induced both tears and ecstasy throughout the years. I was a huge fan. So meeting her, and hearing that she knew my work was something special. We kept in touch.
“It was a year before I asked her if she’d be interested in producing the next album. When she agreed, I knew we were on a train, all we had to do was hold on and we would get there. But when we started working on the album, exchanging ideas and sounds, I had written very little, then the words came, in bursts and waves, and the music too; we were engaged in a mutually inspiring, deep creative process. So when we met at the studios in Paris we knew exactly what we had to do. The musicians did too, Meshell had been working on the arrangements with her band while on tour!
“Meshell was clear from the start that she wanted to focus on the words, that the music, though important, supported the poems. I think this was what she did with the instrumentation, as you will hear when you listen to the album. Poetry is at the centre of this universe. It brings me full circle; the first Spasm Band album, Leggo the Lion (2007) was all poetry, spiritual baptist rhythms and free jazz. Meshell wanted me to go back to being a poet on this album, in her words to ‘just say the poem’. She wanted the voice to penetrate the ear, to make what Kamau Brathwaite calls ‘word-sculptures’ for the ear.
“If you listen to the album, you will hear, (as my new band has been finding out) how she has manipulated the fabric of time, how rhythms shift unexpectedly, how certain things seem to go out of time, to suggest their autonomy, but always seem to be right, how sub bass frequencies emerge from nowhere, and how sometimes, like in ‘Shine’, one of the more spiritual tracks on the album, (you’ll see why when we play it live) the head wants to stay in one place but the body demands movement. There are moments like this throughout the album, and its part of the enjoyment to find them.
“Seven years. And here we are in 2014 with a new album, a new band, a new approach, but on the same path towards the frequency of magic, which is what I think poetry is.”
Seek out Anthony Joseph’s ‘Time’. It’s on Naive Records and out now!Word sound & power!