Blakk Harbor - A Modern Dialect [Mille Plateaux - 2020]Pulsing through the crisp detritus of a 2020 street, Blakk Harbor's second album, A Modern Dialect, teases at a techno future sound while still firmly placed in the present, expounding upon modern ideas. It's this relatable foresight that gives A Modern Dialect its charm; it's the friendly tour guide from the future. Not capitalizing on set rules of sound for any genre, Blakk Harbor's latest is an interesting, propulsive thought piece of techno industrial.
Blakk Harbor's time scale mash up starts with the cover and continues on in the electronics within. The ancient sculpture (~2400 B.C.) looks both ancient and post-modern, and hints at the timelessness of experimentation. Does art always need a timed frame of reference? A Modern Dialect feels like a vision into a sleek, fast, cyberpunk future. However, at the same time, this could fit well as a soundtrack to the timelapse footage of an ancient city being erected. While it would seem anachronistic and draw the ire of many reviewers, we see that past through our modern lens, so why wouldn't we hear it with our ears? This Cycladic figurine cover image shows that we are closer to our ancient ancestors than we like to believe. Rooted in percussive beats, A Modern Dialect captures the ancient attachment of rhythm and gives it a rough, electronic skin. Pounding like a post-hunt heartbeat, the songs contained speak to the core of the listener and asks the question, "why is this not primal as well?" What makes the music fit the time frame: the skeleton or the skin? While it's kind of a chicken/egg scenario, it makes one wonder. And, while we tend to think that the further back in time the further from our modern tastes people would be, Blakk Harbor brings in a different viewpoint. Sure, the dandies playing at the early 19th century cotillion wouldn't approve of this, but it's a fair wager that early civilizations may find more in common with A Modern Dialect than with chamber music.
Oft times delightfully rough, Blakk Harbor's techno-industrial A Modern Dialect uses a percussive drive to push its electronic agenda. Shattering definitions of timeliness and modernity, Blakk Harbor puts its notion forth simply by juxtaposing an ancient sculpture with nearly futuristic electronic music. While this may not be as much of a thought piece to many as much as a reason to tear it up on the highway, the album is still there for all to enjoy. Take from it what you want, as that is why art is here, and that is why art will forever be.Paul Casey