Robin Denselow 

Antibalas: Antibalas – review

Brookyln-based Antibalas have honed their Afrobeat chops to a high shine, but still need to find their own voice, writes Robin Denselow
  
  

Fifteen years on from their creation in a Brooklyn warehouse, Antibalas have become one of the world's finest Afrobeat bands, and proved you don't have to live in Nigeria to play the style created by Fela Kuti. They have mastered the insistent, distinctive rhythms and musical changes crucial to this music, and since the release of their last album five years ago, several members of the band have helped provide the backing for the hit musical Fela! Now they are back, with a classy new set that's notable mostly for the instrumental work; the opening track Dirty Money is a slinky, rousing demonstration of the way they have updated Afrobeat, switching from tight, clattering percussion to equally rhythmic keyboard work and punchy brass, with stirring sax solos from Stuart Bogie. What's lacking, inevitably, is Fela's sense of anger and danger. The sturdy vocal work of Lagos-born Amayo invites constant comparison with Fela, and Antibalas still need to do even more to create their own distinctive style.