From the deep depths of darkness, lonely late nights, and the hurt injected from the people we love, sometimes we are able to pull something truer than before, much stronger than our yester-selves. Whether it’s the heartbreak from someone who has hurt us, or the heartbreak from the serious repercussions of a systematic racist society, the pain finds a raw soul beauty: Like a cerebral delve into our most vulnerable selves for absolute truth, The Black Creatures pulls something tangible out of those foggy late nights in their newest album, See No Evil.
One part 90s r&b soul anthem, one part ambient new-wave, one part urgent cry for truth, See No Evil detects the evil amongst the duo and expels that evil. The duo, Xavier Martin and Jade Beom weaves a sound that feels futurist while drawing from the near past, and do so in creating a message that is gut-wrenching. This is especially true on “Negative Zero”, where hard-hitting truth becomes evident in laying out the facts, “Jim Crow is a regular Joe blow but I know the grass is always greener where the septic tanks flow / I practice self-control, like I don’t cry in the shadow” and repercussions with the hook, “If you don’t know, now you know and if your soul hurts sing along / If you feel mad let it show, and if your soul hurts sing along” before breaking into Beom’s heart-breaking croon, “I want to fly, get so high just to touch the sky, but if I fall, it won’t matter in the end at all.” In times of disenchantment and all feels lost, it’s in those same places we can begin to detect the truth to expel darkness.
Martin’s beats emulate this as they dissipate as quickly as they hook, sometimes, the beat contrasting: A big bang filling the background of a twinkling synth, wobbly wubby bass lines, or some serious late 80s new wave DX7 sounds. This proves to be effective as it pays homage to the strong femme voices of the 80 / 90s r&b movement. At times I’m reminded of an early 90s Mary J. Blige “You Remind Me” moment, mixed with ambient traction of a sci-fi film score or Laurie Anderson’s Big Science.
Ultimately, The Black Creatures ingeniously takes a lot of what we know in pop and r&b tropes from those eras and turns them on their head in a new and modern way while bringing important topics to the centerfold, maiming the serious issues within our society. My hat is eternally off for a group that grapples with pain through strength, innovation, elevation. And in the those dark, lonely late nights, we may let our emotions pour over, but then we stand up, stronger than before: “You don’t need me, and I certainly don’t need you,” Beom soothes before closing the blinds, returning back to freedom, refusing to let the evil in.