‘Black Eunuch’: the elemental soul-punk of Algiers. A DM premiere.
10:01 am
‘Black Eunuch’: the elemental soul-punk of Algiers. A DM premiere. ‘Black Eunuch’: the elemental soul-punk of Algiers. A DM premiere.

There are few releases I’m looking forward to this year like the self-titled debut from Algiers. There are past and current bands that have edifyingly fused the energies of southern gospel and rock, but Algiers? Theirs is some potent stuff, absolutely worthy of all the discussion they’ve been generating. The band is made up of expats from America’s deep south, and is built around the nexus of singer Franklin James Fisher, an expressive blues howler whose calls for radical social change can turn on a dime from guttural grunts to righteous wails. In answer, the band combines HOT soul tropes with the loftiest ideals and gnarliest noises of experimental post-punk. And I’m tellin’ you, good people, the alloy is as strong as the forge is hot. Check out the commanding slow-burn of “Blood”:

Here’s some style-whiplash for you: dramatic synth stabs dominate “Irony. Utility. Pretext.”, but the band’s high-tension heaviness remains as persuasive.


In an excellent interview with The Quietus, Fisher and bassist Ryan Mahan discuss their relationship to gospel music, and how it came to be so integral to their compelling hybrid sound:

When did you hit on what might now be described as your ‘sound’?

FJF: I remember as Ryan and I were comparing song notes, it became increasingly apparent that punk rock and gospel had very similar energies: driving beats, shouting, call and response vocals, group participation, etc. It was enthralling to stumble on the similarities, and it’s something we are still exploring.

Was the religion that often goes along with gospel part of your lives? What’s your relationship with religion?

RM: Religion looms like a golem in my memories. Rather than a site of salvation and emancipation, the church was a house of repression and damnation. I went to a Southern Baptist church only a few miles from Stone Mountain, a towering 1,600-ft rock behemoth defaced on one side by a huge bas-relief of three ‘leaders’ of the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Now this church was not the baying, fire-breathing caricature of Southern evangelicalism, but its ‘respectable’, middle-class cousin. The contradictions of white Southern identity permeated its foundations, a monochrome smattering of grey suits and polite smiles papering over the signs of the judgment: intolerance, hypocrisy, hierarchy and political conservatism. The solemn songs we sang, like ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’, had none of the millenarian zeal or collectivism that I would later find in so much of African-American gospel. At the time, it was the boredom and the social isolation that initially pushed me away. Only much later was I able to locate some of my anti-establishment fervour in these experiences.

Algiers went on the road with Interpol in May, and will be out on its own in June. Tour dates are at their web site. The LP will be released on June 2nd, and it’s DM’s privilege today to debut their new video, “Black Eunuch.” This song is a motherfucker and a half, and if this kind of thing doesn’t move you I’m not sure I need to know you. Dig it.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
10:01 am



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