I feel drawn to artists that have managed to express their soul with a 360 conceptual message. When it comes to musicians, beyond sound that translates to visual art through styling, scenography, as well as graphic design. An entire conceptual world to journey through. And the higher the emotional impact, the higher the imprint in the unconscious. 

Although it’s true that Totem Taboo’s soundtrack is all kinds of Afrodescendant music as a big multi-branched tree that I already payed tribute to with Funktopia collection, it is also true that in regards to this whole artistic conceptuality, Totem Taboo’s essence really drinks from avant-garde and spiritual jazz. The only thing that matched the intensity of the jazz being made in the 60’s and 70’s, were the aesthetics in form of graphics and styling that came with.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in African-American communities of New Orleans in the 19th century with its roots in blues, ragtime, European harmony, and African rhythmic rituals.

Avant-garde and free jazz, broke through in the late 50’s into an open space of free tonality in which meter, beat, and formal symmetry all disappeared, and a range of world music from India, Africa, and Arabia among others were melded into an intense style of playing. Musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor led the way.

Spiritual jazz is a style of avant-garde jazz music which emerged in the 60’s. It is closely associated with the musical and spiritual philosophy developed by John Coltrane in the mid-1960s (manifested as early as his seminal A Love Supreme album) which was passed on Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. Stylistically, spiritual jazz is marked by a mixture of jazz with approximations of the so-called ‘ethnic music’ styles, as well as with spiritual traditions, and the transcendental, and decolonial as in deconstructing aspects, of free jazz. This radical style was also closely linked to various political and spiritual movements.

It was in adverse conditions that jazz performers also discovered the power of dress as a visual tool used to defy the same mainstream societal constructs, shaping a new fashion and style aesthetic dressing the same subversive representation. Drawing on fashion studies and cultural theory, it is possible to do an in-depth analysis of the social and political entanglements of jazz and dress.

This spirit translated into political as well as spiritual art, not being an exclusive favourite style in the tree mentioned above, it does resonate as what would definitely be Totem Taboo’s musical DNA.

by Cristina Morales