Antibalas: Security


Antibalas, the horn and percussion driven Brooklyn collective, is best known for their energetic afro-beat grooves that channel the legendary Fela Kuti. But with careful attention to refining their sound—adding distinct Latin, jazz and funk elements—the group has emerged as a well-rounded and diverse sonic force. On Security, they demonstrate their growth, with the capable guidance of producer John McEntire (of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake fame), post-rock pioneer and a consummate shaper of dynamic soundscapes.

McEntire’s subtle yet unmistakable touch is immediately apparent on the impressive opening track, “Beaten Metal,” a bombastic march interrupted only for a brief scrap-metal, Konono No. 1–style percussion interlude. Vocalist Amayo, the ever-sly lyricist and political instigator, doesn’t enter until halfway through the second track, the rapid-fire “Filibuster XXX,” but he arrives with his typical Kuti-esque lyrical stylings in tow, offering an artful, extended rant on all things Bush, Cheney and company. Mocking the congressional practice of endless debate, he questions the GOP’s ability to lead—and what is the GOP anyway, he asks: “Greedy Old People? Gas Oil Plutonium?”

On “Sanctuary,” the band slows the pace as they slip into a sexy afro-beat/reggae hybrid groove, the polyrhythms rolling in waves under the languorous melody. The amiable “Hilo” would have fit nicely on a Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock album, but it never reaches its full potential, and the closing track, the lazily jazzy “Age,” tails off into the ether, ending the album on a disappointing note. But the sorrowful, apocalyptic horns on “I.C.E.”—as well as the tight, poignant “War Hero”—demonstrate the admirable range of a band who promises many more good things to come.

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