Composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and poet JJJJJerome Ellis today shared “Dysfluent Waters,” a new track and music-video-poem from his forthcoming album and book, The Clearing, a conceptual and musical tour de force that explores how stuttering, blackness, and music can be practices of refusal against hegemonic governance of time, speech, and encounter.
Premiered earlier today with Foxy Digitalis, “Dysfluent Waters” opens with hypnotic, polyrhythmic music for piano, percussion, and saxophone. Ellis asks: “How can thinking about water help us think about dysfluencies, blacknesses, and musics together?” After he tells a true story about captured Africans using music to help them execute a mutiny, the track suddenly gives way to a searching, sweeping section led by a warm Rhodes keyboard. Ellis’ favorite part of this section is a Toni Morrison quote he reads, in which she describes how the Mississippi periodically floods shoreline where it had been straightened: “‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be.” A delicate flute solo over sparse polyrhythmic percussion leads to an oceanic soundscape. Out of the soundscape arise sharp, distorted percussion, Ellis’ shouts, and a searing saxophone solo. The track closes with a chorus of saxophones that sound like waves rising to meet the rising sun.
“I’d gone from barely paying attention to being totally rapt. Everybody was… we were all just kind of spellbound”
–This American Life
“An absolutely epic double-album, and highlight of the season… a must-hear this November.”
“a compelling thesis over sweeping ambience and trap percussion”
“Sometimes an album comes out of the unknown that spins you right around… you need to hear this”
–Was Ist Das
–WNYC New Sounds