Modern Griots Review: Muthawit’s “PMS Junkie”
In the age of countless apocalyptic wars, attacks and disasters, partisan politics, economic uncertainty, loathsome media pundits, stubborn and greedy leaders in various fields and people suffering on the bottom, it is often tiring and frightening to discuss all of the issues swarming everywhere. Sometimes you dream of getting into a spaceship and escape. In the band Muthawit‘s album, PMS Junkie, the group manages to do both — addressing the political landscape around us while having a sound that travels through space and time swirling the two in a mission to show the surreal nature of our times.
Following their first release, men & women (la Revenge de Uncle Baldy), PMS Junkie is the latest in founder, Boston Fielder’s work with afrofuturistic artists, like Kodwo Eshun, MF Doom, Jneiro Jarel and Spoek Mathambo, and other well-known music figures, like Burt Bacarach and the late Minnie Riperton. The group and the 16-track album is definitely futuristic and surrealistic in their sound and image. Kodwo Eshun did say, “Boston Fielder and MuthaWit are Gods in the universe they have created and these songs, which you must hear, are their Adam and Eve cloned to a fallen and disrupted infinity.”
This shows in PMS Junkie as Muthawit causes the past, present and future to collide and bends genres and topics into aural collages. For example, in the first song, “The Gorilla in the Room,” the first sound is a blaring saxophone which leads to the Fielder’s robotized voice speaking of the issues weighing on the country. The first single off the album, “Celine in America,” mixes sexuality, paranoia and the military-industrial complex of the United States. Other songs like “Generation Divide” and “Two Fisted God,” exemplify the distorted, traveling through an electronic funnel sound with various jazz, soul, and rock influences.
“Roger Ailes” takes a sarcastic shot at the Fox News Channel and their ability to control so much of the media and the masses. In “Print Money,” Fielder almost sounds like George Clinton from Parliament Funkadelic, and the title track of the album is alien-sounding with dissonant saxophone and string sounds. Muthawit continues the critique on the military-industrial complex i songs like “Lavender Machine Gun,” about how war is made fashionable, and a stirring song about a soldier and his family torn apart because he has been gone so long, called “She Don’t Recognize Me No More.”
The album will also include a 42-page booklet with artwork that will reflect “Beardenesque contradictions, surreal passions and dark humor of the songs” and reveal Fielder’s other interest of graphic design. Together, the album and artwork condenses the disorienting nature of the world today into a speculative musical journey. As Fielder himself described the album, “PMS Junkie reflects my addiction to the 24 hour news. Every time I thought I had the song to catch the zeitgeist another wacko headline surfaced. PMS Junkie is dedicated during this election year to soldiers fighting for peace, the makers of Red Hot Blues, revolutionary feminine energy and the rapturous finality of the cluster bomb.”
If this is how America sounds now, its future is going to be quite magnificent and terrifying. PMS Junkie is available now.