We named Algiers a Band To Watch back in 2015, and they’ve spent the intervening years validating that title. The trio’s unclassifiable weaponized genre meld has thus far yielded two great albums, 2015’s self-titled debut and 2017’s The Underside Of Power. Not long after that album dropped, Algiers hit the studio with Massive Attack, but we haven’t heard any new music from the group in two years. That changes today.
Yesterday Algiers posted a link to thereisnoyear.com, a website full of revolutionary poetry and grimy animated graphics. And this morning they’ve unleashed a wild new track called “Can The Sub_Bass Speak?” Co-produced by Sunn O))) collaborator Randall Dunn and Uniform’s Ben Greenberg, it’s unlike any Algiers song I’ve ever heard. Against a backdrop of sampled chants and chaotic free jazz, Franklin James Fisher recites a long, detailed rundown of all the unfortunate ramblings his band his inspired people to blurt out. Again and again he returns to the refrain, “You don’t know how to act.” It’s harrowing and hilarious all at once.
Some of Fisher’s narration focuses on the sound of Algiers themselves: “What is this? This ain’t hip-hop. This ain’t punk rock. You ain’t punk rock. You ain’t hip-hop. What is this? What style of music do you play? What kind of music do you play? What do you call your music? What genre is this? How do you mix all these genres together? Why do you mix all these genres together? How do you do it? I see, it’s kinda like gospel-punk, soul-punk, soul-rock, doom-soul? What is this fusion? It’s more like confusion. I like the punk, but I don’t like the soul. I like the soul, but I don’t really like the punk. It’s soulful, but why do you have to make it ugly? You don’t even know what your sound is!” And later: “You know who you remind me of? You remind me of TV On The Radio. You remind me of Fishbone. You remind me of Gary Clark Jr. You remind me of Bad Brains. You remind me of Living Colour. You remind me of Lenny Kravitz.”
That sort of exhausting discourse is comical, but the song gets more intense as Fisher explores the thorny misconceptions that go along with being a black man in a largely white cultural space: “You don’t really talk like a black guy. I mean you’re black, but you ain’t really black. You don’t really act black, nigga. You more a negro than a nigga. You’re pretty cool for a nigga but you ain’t really a nigga, you know what I’m sayin’? You know that Chris Rock sketch where he says like there’s a difference between black people and niggas? Why can’t I say it? Why you allowed to say it but we can’t say it? Fuck you nigga, you don’t really know how to act. Oh, you niggas don’t really know how to act. How does it feel to be a black man making white music?”
Here’s Fisher’s statement on the work:
Who has the cultural authority to designate origin and authenticity?
“Can the Sub_Bass Speak? “is a frustrated regurgitation; a
re-contextualization; a re-appropriation; a shield and a mirror that
projects back onto the world a lifetime of interpellating language
rooted in weaponized ignorance and supremacist privilege.
The improvised punctuation is provided by Skerik on the tenor
saxophone and D’Vonne Lewis on drums and percussion.
The underlying cacophony traces the evolution of African-American
music, experience and identity.
This is not for the mercenary architects: the Jacks and Queens of
This is for anyone who has found themselves on the sharp end of
insidious, rhetorical prying: “Where are you from?” “What are you?”
This is for anyone who has had their identity assigned and determined
by the agents of patriarchy.
This is for the Subaltern.
“Can The Sub_Bass Speak?” arrives with visual accompaniment by Sam Campbell and typography by Farbod Kokabi. Watch it below, where you can also find Algiers’ tour dates.
08/28 – Montepulciano, Italy @ Acquaviva
08/29 – Bassano Del Grappa, Italy @ Unknown venue
09/14 – Dornbirn, Austria @ Unknown
09/17 – Berlin, Germany @ Lido
09/18 – Hamburg, Germany @ Reeperbahn Festival
09/19 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
09/24 – Krakow, Poland @ Venue TBC
09/27 – Thessaloníki, Greece @ Street Mode Festival
09/28 – Patras, Greece @ Venue TBC
09/29 – Ioánnina, Greece @ Route 66
02/03 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
02/05 – London, UK @ Village Underground
02/06 – Manchester, UK @ YES
02/07 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
02/08 – Dublin, IRE @ Whelans
02/10 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell
02/12 – Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique Rotonde
02/14 – Cologne, Germany @ Club Volta
02/15 – Schorndorf, Germany @ Manufaktur
02/17 – Frankfurt, Germany @ Zoom
02/18 – Dresden, Germany @ Beatpol
02/20 – Warsaw, Poland @ Hybrydy
02/21 – Prague, Czech Republic @ Lucerna Music Bar
02/22 – Vienna, Austria @ Flex
02/24 – Munich, Germany @ Strom
02/26 – Rome, Italy @ Monk
02/27 – Milan, Italy @ Ohibò
02/29 – Barcelona, Spain @ Razzmatazz 3
03/01 – Madrid, Spain @ Café Berlin
03/03 – Bordeaux, France @ Barby
03/04 – Nantes, France @ Stereolux
03/05 – Paris, France @ La Maroquinerie
“Can The Sub_Bass Speak?” is out now on Matador, and I can’t wait to hear what else Algiers have in store.