Trippers & Askers - Acorn LPSleepy Cat Records
Inspired by the world building, Afrofuturist radicalism of the novel “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, the latest Trippers & Askers LP “Acorn” blends spiritual jazz and traditional styles in ways that pose fundamental questions about the nature of “American” music. With cover art from acclaimed comic artist John Jennings - whose work includes multiple graphic novel adaptations of Butler’s work - this concept album ushers the listener through the narrative of the novel as it pertains to the very real political and emotional challenges of the present.
Parable of the Sower was written in the 1990’s and set in 2020’s U.S. when society has collapsed for everyone but the super wealthy due to climate change, wealth inequality, religious fundamentalism, and corporate greed. The protagonist – a woman named Lauren Olamina – embodies a kind of radical hope that has nothing to do with denial. In fact, it’s a kind of hope that can only spring from the fact that she understands the severity of her and her community’s situation better than anyone else. It’s a hope that is anchored by a religion that 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 so many others have taken up as a spiritual roadmap toward liberation from an increasingly unacceptable present.
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, “Acorn.” An album based on the second novel in the series, “Parable of the Talents”, is in process.
Acorn was recorded primarily in Durham, North Carolina, and features some of the area’s finest including Andy Stack (Wye Oak, Joyero), Joseph O’Connell (Elephant Micah), Joe Westerlund (Califone, Megafaun), former Sun Ra member Ken Moshesh. Here are some words on the album from songwriter, friend and fellow traveler, Will Stratton.