“The music on this song and album is wildly intense, spanning the minimalism of Suicide, the inspirational sound of gospel, John Carpenter’s lo-fi synth explorations and the post-punk of Public Image Limited” – NPR
“A gripping sound that gathers disparate Southern modes—Americana harmonies, gospel choirs, chain-gang chants—into rousing protest punk” –New Yorker
“Algiers have created something which diagnoses the underside of power, but also the underside of musical history – the 20th century reimagined as a series of revolutionary spirituals” – The Wire
“Theirs is soul music for the end of the world” – FACT
Algiers have released new single ‘Cleveland’, taken from their forthcoming second album, The Underside Of Power, released June 23 on Matador.
As a reference and tribute to Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old black boy who was shot and killed by police in November 2014, ‘Cleveland’ is a gripping gospel, Detroit techno and punk-fuelled call to arms that manages to be menacing and life-affirming all at once.
“A recurring theme in our music is the idea of injustice and the bitter understanding that obtaining justice in this world is all but impossible–particularly for black and brown people,” says frontman and lyricist Franklin James Fisher. “I wanted the song to sound like the Final Judgement in the Bible, wherein the wicked are judged and condemned by the righteous with all the “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” of the damned when justice is finally realized. This translates in the “solo” section of the song. It consists of various recordings of people inconsolably crying and weeping while the guitar and lead vocal mirror their contortions. If you’ve ever witnessed something like that in real life, sound of a person’s sorrow is equal parts frightening and musical.”
While the song title invokes Tamir Rice, the lyrics summon Kindra Chapman, Andre Jones, Lennon Lacy, Sandra Bland, Roosevelt Pernell, Keith Warren and Alfred Wright, similarly victims of state sanctioned violence. It also makes a link with theorist Walter Benjamin’s work on divine violence, placing justice against the law, wherein the American legal system is complicit in the murder and enslavement of oppressed people.
Already receiving praise from outlets including NPR, The New York Times to The Wire and FACT, The Underside Of Power was recorded largely in Bristol and produced by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Ali Chant, mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production by Ben Greenberg (Hubble, Uniform).
It sees the transatlantic four-piece, based between NYC and London and now counting Bloc Party founding member Matt Tong on drums, delve into political unrest both in the US and UK, touching on oppression, police brutality, dystopia, and hegemonic power structures, via a visceral and incendiary musical palette traversing Northern soul and gospel to IDM, industrial, italo, grime, and musical touchstones such as Suicide, Afrika Bambaata, The Pop Group, Public Enemy and Nina Simone.