ANTIBALAS, "LIBERATION AFROBEAT VOL. 1"
Political and musical descendents of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Antibalas area 14-piece Afrobeat-inspired co-ooperative collective straight out ofBrooklyn. Knowing these facts alone, you're likely to immediately drawa (maybe too easy) comparison between the political and socialconditions of Nigeria in the late 70's and those of New York in thelate 90's. Case in point: just as Fela changed his name to Anikulapo("he who carries death in his pouch"), one member of Antibalas hastaken Amadou Diallo's name for his own. And just as Fela built apowerful, popular, and political genre from a potent mix of bothtradition and innovation, Antibalas are in the process of taking Fela'sAfrobeat in a new direction without sacrificing any of the genre'surgency, either musically or politically. Such urgency is evident ontracks like "Si, Se Puede," "Battle Of The Species," and "Uprising,"all of which proclaim a largely non-lyrical statement of existance andearnest (leftist, anti-capitalist) belief through driving bass grooves,infectious polyrhythmic percussion, and punctuating horns. 'LiberationAfrobeat Vol. 1' does a commendable job of capturing the essence of theband's feverish live performances by keeping studio over-production toa minimum (a couple of the tracks were in fact recorded live inLondon). The authentic sound of the LP is accentuated by theinstrumentation: these days, you'd expect a band like this to feature acouple of turntablists and some other modern musical accoutrements, butthankfully there's nothing but live instruments here. Antibalas makeyou confront themselves on their own terms, and in this case that meansrestricting themselves to many of the conventions of Afrobeat. But theydo it so well and with such conviction that the music doesn't seemrestricted at all - on the contrary, it is truly both liberated andliberating. By keeping the tracks on this Ninja Tune rerelease of thealbum relatively short (each less than ten minutes), Antibalas manageto present a full range of compositions which together serve as a greatintroduction to the band.