Today’s Sounds: Antibalas
Antibalas, Antibalas (Daptone)
Re-appearing from the fog with this fifth LP, after five years of absence from wax, Brooklyn’s global-est 12-piece finally comes home to a house they helped build but have never quite lived in until now.
Forgive the esotericism, it’s just an exciting time for longtime supporters, and an extremely inviting place for new ones.
Back when Antibalas came with the cloyingly suffixed “Afrobeat Orchestra” (a moniker that gave their African funk rhythms and Latin-Cuban accents a harder sell), their music led me to their hero Fela Kuti, and not the other way around. I can only recommend this album as a new project by a band I love, not as a contribution to the Afrobeat genre as a whole.
But as another gem in the funky stacks of soul powerhouse label Daptone, Antibalas positions itself exactly as it should: the first Daptone-stamped release from the first band to grace its now-hallowed Bushwick, NY studios, where they recorded 2004’s Who Is This America? for Rope-a-Dope Records.
This, of course, comes courtesy of label head and Antibalas producer Gabe Roth, a founding band member and curator of musical heritage among NYC funk/soul niches. Since last Roth was seen among the rabble of Antibalas’s oft-revolving cast of players, he caught some wind with a little band called the Dap-Kings and, ya’ know, belted out a few hits here and there for people like Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse.
Antibalas, meanwhile, much like the music they create, probably just needed to breathe. Label-jumping, trailer-livin’ and the sheer amounts of wind and wherewithal involved in their traditional three-plus-hour-sets, night after night — one imagines it takes its toll, with so many mouths to feed.
Give the guys a break, and they will give you back the breaks.
Back to basics with six long, drawn-out limb symphonies, Antibalas reflects an urgency that feels less busy and more considered, after years of angry-young-manhood and the hot-blood pressure-drop flairs of attitude. Still punchy, still hectic, still swinging full speed, Antibalas today displays a new maturity that says they are here to stay, again, at last. Perhaps.
Ultraista, “Bad Insect”
Hey, did you hear that Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich formed a band? Yeah! This is the third song to be revealed from their upcoming eponymous debut LP, out Oct. 2 on Temporary Residence.