Album Review: Black Flower – Future Flora [Sdban Records; April 2019]

Black Flower are now onto their third album for Sdban Ultra. The five-piece from Ghent in Belgium are described as having a sound ‘based on African grooves, Ethio-oriental melodies and psychedelic dub’, a description which more than fits this fine quintet. On the opening track, ‘Black Flower – Early Days of Space Travel – Pt 2, I am reminded of Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. But that is a compliment that doesn’t really go the distance, as Black Flower have a very distinct style, and comparisons do not help.

The groove continues to pulsate gently through the rest of this wonderfully tightly produced body of work. We head deeper into the jungle on ‘Maloya Bud’, while ‘Hora de Aksum’ (my Brazilian wife tells me this means the Hour of Action, and I tremble as she tells me this, knowing there’re dishes to be washed while I tap out this review!!!!) has plenty of saxual energy, with horns poppin’ up everywhere, reminding us that this is jazz.

‘Clap Hands’ (as one can imagine) is a feel-good-all-over tune and has me feeling good as I look up into the grey Dublin sky. A groove runs through with hypnotic basslines under some deep horns. To me, its saxual horns are making love with the percussion to create a baby of sounds. Easily my favourite track here. But wait, what’s that mysterious rustlin’ ‘n’ shufflin’……It’s ‘Ohm Eye’, the shortest piece on the album, but no less enticing. And then we’re onto ‘Ankor Wat’, reinforcing the grooves on this splendid offering.

The final track on this album is also the title track, ‘Future Flora’, and it goes on for in excess of 13 minutes, which is a tad too long for a fellow like me who needs to mind his blood pressure. Maybe they could have shaved four or five minutes off it and I’d not have noticed. But this is really the only criticism I have of what is really a rewarding piece, and I hope others feel the same way after hearing it.

Not content with a little noodling, Black Flower seem keen to develop a sound and, with that, an audience too. This, in the best sense, is international jazz. We live in an ever-changing world, and Black Flower, in producing Future Flora, are aware of the importance of nurturing this world and its environment. With afrobeat and also Ethio-jazz now as popular as ever, you’ll need some Black Flower to fill the vase beside yer stereo. I want to see ‘em live, and I’m betting they’ll not wither!