Music News


Afrobeat is an often imitated music form, but few bands approach it with the respect and creativity that Brooklyn's Antibalas has over the years. When the band was created nearly a decade ago, their music picked up where the genre's architect, Fela Kuti and his son Femi respectively left off—taking the roots of Afrobeat and tweaking them for a Latin/indie audience. There's nothing wrong with that neo-approach, but Antibalas (whose name derives from "bulletproof" in Spanish) certainly couldn't make a career out of it. So it's no surprise that on their newest album, Security, the group is noticeably branching out and exploring a darker sound, while incorporating a tapestry of Latin-jazz, funk, classical, and soul into their horn-driven mix. The song "Filibuster X," possibly the album's strongest track, is a rolling, Nigerian-tinged fuck-you to global politricks, strong both in its lyricism and poignant Afrobeat rhythms. On tunes like "Age," the band makes good use of its orchestra-sized arrangement, with rolling drum patterns tucked underneath baby-soft horns, astral guitar riffs, and delicate organ accompaniment. With a dozen members in their mix, Antibalas is also able to pull off such a complex amalgamation of polyrhythms and have enough instrumentation on hand not to rely on electronics. Long-time Tortoise and Stereolab producer John McEntire was brought onboard to help round out the group's sound, and the finished product is a hip album that clangs like Brooklyn, Lagos, and Mexico City all at once.

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Jonathan Cunningham