Philly needs its Moor Mother right about now

What’s most necessary in a time such as this? Peace. Protest. Peaceful protest. Conflict. Resolution. Noise. Beauty.

North Philadelphia poet, rapper, experimental musician and dark mistress of the avant-garde Moor Mother makes serious, spontaneous composition that’s required for times of pain… Black America’s pain, and those who stand with and for them.

Trafficking in what she calls “Low fi/dark rap/chill step/black girl blues/witch rap/coffee shop riot gurl songs/southern girl dittys/black ghost songs/blackquantumfuturism,” Moor Mother is an entity solely unto herself. 

“I have my own thing,” she told me last year on the occasion of her musical theater debut at the Fringe Arts HQ. “I call it ‘liberation technology.’ To me, that’s like Alice Coltrane playing the sitar. Yeah, she’s playing an instrument everyone knows, but she’s playing it in a way unlike anyone else. In my music, I always have blues, gospel and jazz, as they are massive in moving minds and hearts. It’s a technology that frees and inspires people. It frees me.”

When she hooked up with Pittsburgh flautist and fellow conceptual artist Nicole Mitchell back in 2018 – at the Le Guess Who? Festival, that Moor Mother curated in Utrecht, the Netherlands – the two created their own windstorm of howling synths and roaring flutes. Don Giovanni Records just released a full audio recording of the searing, cloud seeding 2018 performance as “Offering – Live At Le Guess Who” which debuts today, June 1.

In accordance with Don Giovanni’s poetic notes on the session, “See the vultures laughing? See the hawk circling? Have you been walking around with open eyes?” they say here, in a song. These are whispered bombs under the breath of a gamelan, an acoustic sound system – pleading, longing, for your specific liberation. Make a home for this magic!

Traveler, spirit, sage – your hand holds the physical, time-stamped documentation of the first collaboration between two mystics, the inimitable poet and noise musician Moor Mother and the indefatigable flautist and composer Nicole Mitchell. These two artists, diviners truthfully, spent a few years basking in the sun spilled glow of each other’s radiance from a distance before colliding and colluding musically at the Moor Mother curated Le Guess Who Festival in Utrech, the Netherlands in 2018. That is the performance captured here, then chip-tagged, cataloged and released into the wild.

This “Offering” comes immediately on the heels of Moor Mother’s other new work, the bone-rattling, bird tweeting, percussive and political “Clepsydra”, a mixed history lesson and look-see into an ancient time-measuring device worked by a flow of water. 

We can stand for something so gloriously absurd and gleefully super-natural.


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