Far from being a nod to JAY-Z, The Black Album's title refers to a period of hardship, which also explains Yorke's two-year absence from music. "The album is a conversion of everything shitty that's happened in my life over the past two years," he says, describing health problems and the loss of his sight. In spite of that, the LP's concept is simple: "It's 20 tracks, no filler, no skits, just straight-up bangers, track for track."
Yorke once described himself as "the Doctor Frankenstein of sub-genre." He typically plays with a variety of largely UK-based underground sounds, mixing broken beat with warehouse flavours. The Black Album is full of material in this vein. One of those tracks, "Gravity," is topped with chopped-up glockenspiel chimes and an Ol' Dirty Bastard sample. "Acid Black" is Yorke on full-blown freakout mode, with a wavering synth line that could have been lifted from eski grime.
Altered Natives' music often roughs up house and techno templates, one of his standout qualities. "The Never Dying Heart," for instance, adds subtle counter-rhythms to queasy techno. Then there's the slamming acid-meets-hardcore "Weißer Junge Schwarzer Musikclub." Yorke is outspoken on social media, particularly about diversity in electronic music, and the track's title—it means "White Boy Black Music Club"—takes aim at whitewashing in dance music.
The album has no frills, but plenty of variety. We get industrial techno ("Lucifer"), melodic house ("Double Cross"), UK funky ("The Terror"), roughneck acid ("Kung Fu Trans Anaconda") and plenty else. In spite of its diverse range of styles, it seldom sounds trendy. It's safe to say The Black Album live up to its premise: a zero-BS collection of bangers.
Mon / 8 Jan 2018
01. By The Way I Loved You
02. Get Real
03. Acid Black
06. The Never Dying Heart
08. Back2bruk (Remember Your Heart)
09. Never Forget
10. The Terror
12. No Hoodpass
13. Black Hermione
14. Double Cross
15. Weißer Junge Schwarzer Musikclub
16. God Help Me (Move/Create)
17. Kung Fu Trans Anaconda
18. Parrow Potstarver
20. Acid Black 2 (House Of Love)