Stinger (Modern Outsider)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Feb. 3, 2017
Afrobeat promulgators Hard Proof began life studying Fela Kuti, but Stinger moves the homegrown 10-piece into another sphere. While the driving horns and rhythms remain central to what the decade-old group represents, nine instrumentals here platform the group's most fully realized ideas and execution. With scorching guitar solos and swirling keyboards offsetting intense polyrhythms, Stinger comes as close to capturing their exuberant, at times fierce live show. The title track leads back to their roots, a rolling tide of African sweeps led by the horns swinging in unison. In Austin, only Grupo Fantasma, their offshoot Brownout, and El Tule match Hard Proof when it comes to crackling energy. Selections like the appropriately titled "Incendiary" and slinky guitar funk of "Boss" cue up prime examples of an even more inventive, cohesive ensemble.