Antibalas, Security

Nate Patrin

By Nate Patrin

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
A record with beats so hot, you’ll forget all about Fela.

Calling Antibalas "Afrobeat" is both helpful and reductive: while this Brooklyn group owes a deep and significant stylistic debt to Fela Kuti — a debt they pay faithfully with their emphasis on endlessly propulsive, horn-driven grooves — each album they've released since 2000's Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1 has continuously refined their approach to Fela's sound and added as many stylistic sidepaths as the template can accommodate. With the help of producer/drummer John McEntire (of Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, the Sea and Cake and countless other bands), Security doesn't so much stray from its sources as expand the sources'borders. The opening salvo of “Beaten Metal” combines Stubblefield-meets-?uestlove-meets-Olatunji percussion with a malicious, fuzzed-out mid-’70s jazz-funk electric piano line and horns as lock-step catchy as a Dirty South synth hook. “Age” and "Sanctuary" are downtempo grooves that prove the band isn't entirely shackled to dancefloor velocity, while the leisurely pace gives electric pianist Victor Axelrod and the horn section (Eric Biondo and Jordan McLean on trumpet, Stuart Bogie on tenor sax, Aaron Johnson on trombone and founder/bandleader Martin Perna on baritone sax) plenty of space to incorporate flourishes of ’60s Blue Note cool jazz. And "Filibuster XXX" is 12 minutes of non-stop fifth-gear Afro/Latin velocity, with tinny bursts of keyboard that pulse so fast they could almost be mistaken for new wave (or no wave). Security proves that "world beat" isn't merely a term to throw at anything outside the Euro-American tradition — it's a way to prove how seamlessly so many cultures 'music can intersect.