Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

Record review

ACL Fest Reviews

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

Who Is This America? (Ropeadope) Picking up where the legendary Fela Ransome-Kuti left off, NYC's Antibalas Orchestra aligns itself as a phalanx of mighty pachyderms, poised to stomp injustice in a rhythmic celebration of life. Surging, triumphant brass piles atop bass-drum combinations so funky in their swagger that the breadth of their every step becomes mesmerizing. Lesser creatures freeze in awe of such an agile stampede of brute force. Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Rove, and Rice – consider them served as the N.W.A.-esque court drama of "Indictment" segues into a sentence dictated by the "Live and Let Die" stutter of trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. "Who Is This America Dem Speak of Today?" scours the Savannah for remaining rats with the conviction of an elephant completely removed from its ordained fear of rodents. As Ernesto Abreu's Yoruban chants beckon, the thundering herd responds in harmonic unison. Accompanied by ever-pulsing percussion, tireless grooves stretch out across mad acreage as every "Big Man" within reach is shaken down and taught a "lesson on the dance floor." Bulletproof from birth, Antibalas protects its "Sister" with the sanctuary of a warrior's prayer: "I try to find the strength every day to check myself." As spiritual as it is militant, the 19-minute track's incorporation of clavinet reveals the introspective quality of an Augustus Pablo, or any given Brooklynite for that matter, metaphysically patrolling East of the River Nile. With anywhere between 14 and 20 soldiers comprising its inner circle, Antibalas channels the multiformity of world culture into a cohesive course of pure musical action. (Sunday, 4pm, Capital Metro stage)


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