Antibalas (Spanish for bullet-proof) is a 15-piece Afrobeat band out of New York City. The band's music captures the sound and spirit of the genre's founder and preeminent composer, the late Fela Kuti of Nigeria. Call it mimicry if you like, but it's no mean feat to summon the bluster, energy and drive of Fela's incomparable band, and these guys nail it, composing within the quirky conventions Fela laid out, while inserting elements of the New York milieu without distorting the signature Afrobeat character.
Any attempt to equal Fela's personal presence is likely to fall flat. But in all the great Afrobeat recordings, the band and the arrangements are what count. Antibalas has that part down: fat, wall-of-brass horn passages, grounded by that ever-present baritone and layered, polyrhythmic grooves that raise '70s funk to a spiritual plane. The drums are busier than Fela's, and the guitarist knows how to rock out. Otherwise, this could be Lagos, circa 1980. -Courtesy Calabash Music