OCTAVIA E. BUTLER was a Californian African-American science fiction author whose 1993 novel, Parable Of The Sower, has rippled out with staying power across culture, with its tale of the marginalised attempting to survive a (really, very) near-future ecological and economic collapse.
it was only written less than three decades, in the lifetime of many of us; but it was set in the unimaginably far-off 2020s (… ulp.) The protagonist, Lauren Olamina, embodies radical hope; she understands the severity of her community’s situation; and it’s a hope anchored by a religion she creates called Earthseed, a way of seeing the world that many contemporary black feminist activists and musicians such as adrienne maree brown, Toshi Reagon and others have taken up as a spiritual roadmap.
Now Octavia’s prescient novel has been used as musical inspiration for Jay Hammond’s folk-spiritual jazz project Trippers & Askers, who has gathered an array of collaborators including members of Wye Oak, Califone and Sun Ra’s ensemble for an album called Acorn who explore the book’s narrative in finely realised song as it relates to the very real political and emotional challenges of the present.
The collective has just dropped a lovely announcing single, the sweetly unfolding country-folk-gospel of “Chance’s Wake”, which you can hear below. Slide guitar warms the trilling acoustic guitars, a little synth nuance and a quietly rousing lyric seeking guidance for how we ought to be as the beast of late-era capitalism swings its tusks around us.
Side A of Acorn deals with the childhood of humanity on earth, with the discovery of Earthseed ushering us to the stars. Side B deals with a “sweet, sad and terrifying” adulthood that is oriented toward the creation of the first Earthseed community, known as Acorn.
An album based on the second novel of Earthseed, Parable Of The Talents, is under way.
If you’re a fan of song-oriented Jim O’Rourke, Sam Amidon, even, I’d say, The Low Anthem, this may just be a record you could really fall for.
Trippers & Askers’ Acorn will be released by Sleepy Cat Records digitally, on CD and on vinyl on July 16th and is available to pre-order now direct from the label.
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