Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air

By presenting a platform for black and queer collaborators in her latest record, Philly-based noisemaker and activist Moor Mother creates an Afrotopian soundscape

Album Review by Cheri Amour | 14 Sep 2021
  • Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air
Album title: Black Encyclopedia of the Air
Artist: Moor Mother
Label: ANTI-
Release date: 17 Sep

Wise up on Pink Siifu and you’ll learn the rapper treats genres “as blank canvases for his own odd compositions.” The same could be said for Moor Mother, the Philly-based noise project of Camae Ayewa who welcomed Siifu onto recent single Obsidian. Ayewa’s 2016 release, Fetish Bones, reimagined electronic noise as protest songs. Five years on and her latest release proves there’s still ample to be riled about. 

Album opener Temporal Control of Light Echos is a direct, spoken word piece addressing pain and problematic figures of power. The soundscape Tarot presents these musings as a mantra over scant jazz trills and the tinkles of a wind chime, as she reasons: 'Our elders are holders of history / Our gardeners of truth and foundation'. Elsewhere, rage-fuelled single Zami channels Sault-style distorted delivery and fractured frustrations. 

But it’s in the curation of the record where Ayewa excels, presenting a platform for black and queer collaborators throughout, from the taut strings and shoulder shuffle of Shekere (ft. Lojii) to slow jam Made a Circle (ft. Nappy Nina). In the wake of a revitalised Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve all got some wising up to do. Thankfully, Moor Mother’s Black Encyclopedia... is just what we need.

Listen to: Shekere, Made a Circle, Tarot