Where The Gods Are In Peace
The first new Antibalas album in five years is a rebuild – in many ways. The long-running American tribute to Afrobeat orchestra has shed several key members to top pop and indie bands (The Roots, The Black Keys, Mark Ronson, Arcade Fire) and has gathered up some new (young) blood in return. It’s a fighting fit, charging-brass sound, that largely improves on the slight laziness of the previous, self-titled album. Where that had them with the baking paper and pencils out, tracing shapes, here they’ve gone full-bonkers with a concept album about an alien joining forces with natives to save the world.
They manage to get this across – and really it doesn’t matter if you ever pick up on that storyline, there’s hard-edged funk to enjoy after all – in just 35 minutes. No mean feat. But it also directly addressed the issue with the band; Antibalas had gone from the majesty and magic of Who Is This America? to a rounder-edged soft-jam clan. It was, to put it, er, bluntly, a bit boring.
Still great players, always great players, but just not exciting.
No such issue here. Where The Gods Are In Peace is nearly brutal in its ascent and assault. Touches of salsa and reggae feels tint the Afrobeat glaze – it’s ‘world’ music after all. But it’s about the horns and those insatiable drum rhythms. You just put this on and forget where (in the world) you are for a half hour or an hour if you hit repeat. And that’s what we want these daze…