It only takes about 15 seconds for Tcheser Holmes and Luke Stewart to get into a locked a tight groove. It only takes 15 seconds for Irreversible Entanglements to grab us by the scruff of the neck and drag us over to the edge to show that’s it’s time to open our damn eyes. “It’s energy time,” hollers Camae Ayewa as the lights go out. Following up an album as monumental as Who Sent You? might seem like a hill to climb, but for a group featuring some of the best artists on the planet, it’s all in a day’s work.
Open the Gates is immense. Fierce. “Something more than heaven,” Ayewa blisters on “Six Sounds.” Irreversible Entanglements channel a higher dimension, unseen and unheard by most, but transmitted as myths through a cosmic chain. Aquiles Navarro’s trumpet playing is like a magic wand, the way he sneaks in unsuspecting blasting blue fire across the cemetery celebrations of “Keys to Creation.” Flipping between funereal and jubilant without a second look, synths writhing in syncopated effervescence, the rise toward fleeting clouds is strident and cathartic. Navarro is the key here, sending arrows out ahead of flow to make room for the come through.
Percussion drips like ashes across a parched landscape as the sun rises over the 20-minute opus, “Water Meditation.” Navarro, again, waxes the spiritual divide with a sweetness, flaring into existence with a deep burning light. Ayewa looks us dead in the eyes, never flinching. Buoyed by Stewart’s nudging bassline, her voice is made of steel. “The one that lives in the blood milk of our quantum mothers.” Exploding concrete peppers the walls leaving massive holes and sonic shards from Keir Neuringer’s saxophone filing through the spaces left behind, Navarro adding cover with silver sheets of sound.
Irreversible Entanglements create vectors that cut through concrete epistemological layers, giving voice and agency to those historically denied it. Ayewa’s words are the guideposts, but the sonic catharsis is the other side of the blade. Open the Gates is the reckoning, the needed flood. Even though the curtain is made of bulletproof glass, they’re pulling it back anyway.
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