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BLK JKS: World Music Meets Metal

The brooding dub-rock of South Africa's BLK JKS (pronounced Black Jacks) is a formidable addition to the musical landscape of indie-rock, with potential to appeal to the audiences enchanted by the likes of Vampire Weekend and TV on the Radio. BLK JKS finds its voice on the new Mystery EP, on which the group marries world music and metal, while taking cues from early Public Image Ltd and Bad Brains, South African township jazz and even elements of jazz fusion.

"Lakeside" draws its power from cinematic minor-key passages, a guitar solo that imagines Jimi Hendrix in the 21st century and singer Lindani Buthelezi's ominous vocals. The song opens slowly on a ghostly guitar riff by guitarist Mpumi Mcata before locking into a polyrhythmic groove provided by the rhythm section of drummer Tshepang Ramoba and bassist Molefi Makananise. One moment, Mcata's guitar skips playfully along to a lighthearted, Graceland-esque Umbaqanga shuffle before crashing into a menacing psychedelic blast of machine-gun metal. Before it's over, "Lakeside" takes BLK JKS to a shadowy musical place that sounds as dangerous as it is inviting.

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Copyright 2009 XPN

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Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.