Under the Radar: Issue 21

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Etheridge Knight

COURTESY OF POETRY FOUNDATION

Etheridge Knight can seem like a bit of a curiosity to most students of literature: A black poet who wrote a few books of verse in his literary career, while in prison, his poetry might have been lost to the void of historical forgetting had not his work been republished and popularized by prominent artists of the Black Arts Movement founded by Amiri Baraka. Following the publication of his gorgeous first book, “Poems from Prison” in 1968, Knight went on to have an incredibly prolific career, receiving a National Guggenheim Fellowship and many other prestigious awards.

The poems he wrote in prison ought to be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the turbulence of the late 1960s: Written from the confines of a prison cell, these poems are stabs at transcendance and finding meaning within the drudgery of being the victim of a racist system. These works, intense, measured and remarkably intelligent, touch on themes as diverse as history, blues and elegy. “Poems from Prison” is necessary reading for anyone interested in understanding this experience.

– Faraz Rizvi, Arts & Entertainment Editor

 

Chromatics

COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

You know how some music makes you feel like you’re floating through space and time? But not with the help of a joint by the side (Oh shit)? Well, Chromatics has that effect. Hailing from the indie electronic scene in the Pacific Northwest, the band’s music serves as a source of trippy synthwave grooves and lead vocalist’s Ruth Radalet’s reverberant vocals.

Their most well known song, “Cherry” immediately captivated me with its dream-like synth hook. Radalet’s airy vocals meld well with the catchy thumping bass riff which carries the whole song. And with such tight instrumentation being the band’s strength, it’s no coincidence that Chromatics tend to devote many of their songs to just pure instrumentation. Songs like the eerie “In the City” from their 2006 debut record of the same name and the ‘80s synth-inspired “Looking For Love” off their latest record explore the many out-of-this-world sounds Radalet and Co. are able to construct.

Chromatics seem to be right on the edge of blowing up. ScHoolboy Q’s, “Man of the Year” samples Chromatics’ dream-like hook in “Cherry” but often like many other sampling in music, it goes by unnoticed by the vast majority of its listeners. Just the other day I heard their tense and dark ‘80s synth groove track, “Tick of the Clock” in a car commercial. The band is on the brink of hitting the mainstream and I can’t help but feel glad that more listeners are tuning in to their distinctive music.

– Adrian Garcia, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

 

 

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