Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Morning Coffee:: Antibalas

For the first time in forever, the sun is shining and warming the entire city. Pushing ten degrees (C), you just want to get outside and soak it all in. Being outside all weekend means that my music needs to add the pep to my step.

There's been a big resurgence of love for Afrobeat music in the last few months. Now, for my money, no one will ever be able to hit as hard as Fela Kuti. The man defined the genre, but it was more who he was. His personality, humor, and wit helped his songs jump from infectious to classic. Not surprisingly, I default to the master whenever I'm in the mood for tribal grooves. I think that's why I never really talked much about Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra much. To use one of Shane's analogies - "If I wanted to listen to coke raps, I'd just listen to Ghostface" - and the same normally holds true. If I want Fela inspired grooves, well I'll just throw on Fela.

But here's the deal. Antibalas respect the genre and write great songs. Over the last 10 years Antibalas has consistently broadened their sonic palette and taking new paths. Sure they still have textbook Afrobeat builds, tribal chants and blazing horns, but they aren't settling with their songs. They aren't happy to just be the best Fela tribute act around. Their 2007 release - Security - shows a huge shift in sound and no one really talked about it. Lots of people simply dismiss this as another Afrobeat record for white kids to get high to.

In reality, especially with the help of John McEntire on this record, they are letting more diverse inspirations enter the mix. Latin, dub, rock, folk all make significant contributions. Songs like Beaten Metal stand strongly, even beside more classic sounding numbers like Filibuster X.

It's forever away, but Antibalas is touring Canada again this summer, and their live show is one not to be missed. They hit the Commodore on June 23rd, and like this weekend, it's got me looking forward to Summer way too early.

[MP3]:: Beaten Metal
[MP3]:: Rat Race (live)

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Posted at 11:23 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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