Something a little different from down South this week: a rock group from Johannesburg – albeit one who aren’t afraid of electronic producers re-grooving their guitar-laden Afro-funk.

BLK JKS’ (pronounced ‘Black Jacks’) debut South African EP ‘Mystery’ caught the interest of Diplo when he toured SA in 2007, and he got them a slot at the SXSW Festival. Their performances there snagged the attention of both The Fader mag – who put them on the cover of their March 2008 Africa issue – and the Secretly Canadian stable, home to Antony & The Johnsons, jj and Yeasayer. The label sorted some recording time at the legendary Electric Ladyland studio and lent them the production expertise of Secret Machines’ Brandon Curtis, and the result was the ‘After Robots’ album, which garnered plenty of positive reviews and favourable comparisons to the likes of TV On The Radio.


More importantly (for this blog at least), BLK JKS have no qualms with having their material remixed for the dancefloor. Last year, Ghostly International’s Osborne devised a mysteriously deep version of “Mystery”, and more recently Carlos Ramos of Midnight Rockers Express fame (a legendary 80’s NY spinner who’s played alongside the likes of Alpha Blondy and Hugh Masekela) retooled “Summertime” into a dubby, Shelter-esque disco workout.

Right now the SA quartet are going from strength to strength: they just won Best Alternative album at the South African Music Awards, they’re one of the few local acts playing at the pre-Soccer World Cup concert (alongside the likes of Amadou & Mariam and, er… Shakira) and a new EP called ‘Zol’ (which is local slang for marijuana) is out in June, conveniently coinciding with that gig.

You can get a bunch of free BLK JKS tunes on RCRD-LBL, or grab the ones below…

“Zol” [via Stereogum]

“Summertime (Carlos Ramos Version)” [via RCRD-LBL]

BLK JKS Myspace

BONUS: Here’s the video for their debut international single, “Molalatladi”:

PS. On a less auspicious note, BLK JKS recently collaborated with “superstar” DJ Tiesto on a track that’s available as a free download… If that’s your cup of tea then you can get it here.

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