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The Ku Klux Klan has an ancient history. It was founded in 1865 in a small town in Tennessee by a group of Scottish emigrants who, as landowners, did not like the emancipation of blacks from slavery. The words ‘Ku Klux’ are a transliteration of the Greek kyklos (‘circle’), while ‘Klan’ spelled with a K is a tribute to Scottish Freemasonry.

The consequences of that initiative endure to this day. On 11 January 2018, former Baptist pastor Edgar Ray Killen died in a Mississippi prison. He was 92 years old, serving 60 years for a triple murder in 1964. As the local leader of the Ku Klux Klan, he had killed three civil rights activists in an ambush in the night, and then burned and buried their bodies. The story was told in the film Mississippi Burning – The Roots of Hate. At the time, the episode had already provoked a revolt against white supremacists, not least because of the three young men murdered, only one was black, while the other two belonged to the middle class in the north of the United States. A few days later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act abolishing racial segregation. Many of Killen’s accomplices were tried and given light sentences, while he escaped because the investigators did not want to imprison a religious man. The gang leader, who never repented, was convicted in 2005.

Instead, Charles Denton Watson, called Tex, is still alive and detained in a Californian prison. He was not a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but of the Manson Family: together with the other followers of the visionary leader, in 1969, they had, in fact, carried out a series of particularly brutal murders, among which that of Sharon Tate. Manson hoped that the police would blame those crimes on the Black Panther activists, but instead he ended up behind bars with his entire community. The broader project of Charles Manson, famously named Helter Skelter after a Beatles song, was to unleash a race war between whites and blacks. An objective, therefore, not so different from the Ku Klux Klan, but carried out according to a delirious strategy which, still today, causes disquiet.

There is, however, another Englishman, Charles Watson, who is a musician. In 2006, he and Rebecca Taylor founded the duo Slow Club in Sheffield, and they made five albums. Now they both have solo careers, she more electronic oriented, he more into gentle American folk.

Watson made her debut this year with Now That I’m A River.

The label is London-based Moshi Moshi, one of my favourites.

“‘Moshi moshi’ is the idiomatic expression used in Japan to answer the phone, equivalent to the Italian ‘Pronto?’. But it literally corresponds to the verb ‘to speak’, and why it is said twice is the subject of much debate. Why the three founders of Moshi Moshi decided to call it that is also not known.

Anyway, in 2018, in addition to Charles Watson, this label released Brushes With Happiness by The Wave Pictures, Last Night by Benin City and most importantly Anno, a rewrite of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Anna Meredith:

Also out on 7 September is Family Of Aliens, the third album from Teleman, who are the offshoot of another band called Pete And The Pirates that broke up in 2012. The songs on Family Of Aliens are about the desire to escape from our planet, and perhaps that’s why they use so many electronic sounds and are reminiscent of David Bowie. Fun Destruction is almost a rewrite of Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams, or at least it starts out as such.

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