Antibalas 'Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra' – album review

Antibalas ‘Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra’ (Daptone Records)
Available now 

Returning with their first album in five years Antibalas pull off ferocious and fun for a rewarding listen.

With a dramatic infectious organ and brass driven rhythmic groove opener Dirty Money, shepherds in the new album from New York Afro-beat kings Antibalas. Its a distinctive update on the Afrobeat style instigated by Fela Kuti.

Brooklyn based Antibalas’s fifth album is their first since 2007 Security. In the period between the Antibalas sound has reached a wider audience through saxophonist Stuart Bogie’s work with TV on the Radio and through the group’s work on Fela! The Musical.

The return, on the often fascinating Daptone Records label, sees a verdant combination of taut guitar; compelling, intense, parping keyboards with an insistent fulfilling brass section.

Whilst none of the songs on the album clock in at Fela’s average length of 15 minutes, with six tracks spread over 45 minutes, there is plenty of room for the group to follow a groove to a thrilling conclusion, before Duke Amayo’s fierce vocals return.

Teamwork is an essential element of this sound and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra are like the Spanish national football team, patient, fluid interplay towards an irresistable goal.

There’s moments where the Afrobeat template is refreshed with a jazz inflected interlude, on for instance The Ratcatcher. But it is the closer Sare Kon Kon, resonant of Fela’s Water See No Enemy from his mid-seventies prime, that is the standout track.

Overall the album manages the rare feat of being simultaneously fun and ferocious and is doubly rewarding as a result.

All words by Declan IOM. You can read more from Declan on LTW here.

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