"They lead the pack..." Pitchforkmedia.com
True, some bands are simply meant to lead, and Brooklyn’s Antibalas--as tough and diverse as the city that birthed them nearly a decade ago--has continued to do just that. The group, whose name means “bulletproof” in Spanish, has indeed proved they possess the mettle to not only survive but also thrive by employing a musical arsenal that has become known worldwide. Using the revolutionary blueprint of afrobeat--the infectious, groove-based musical genre/lifestyle created by the late Nigerian musician/singer/iconoclast Fela Kuti in the early ‘70s--as a launching pad, the dozen-strong members of Antibalas weave a rich tapestry of latin, jazz, funk and soul into their horn-driven mix. The result is simultaneously polyrhythmic and political, independent and contagious, and many have credited the band for introducing the framework of afrobeat to a new generation.
Antibalas’ independence and virtuosity is also clearly illustrated via their previous full-length album releases, beginning with 2001’s Liberation Afrobeat Vol. 1 and 2002’s Talkatif (both Ninjatune). But it was 2004’s widely-acclaimed Who Is This America? (Ropeadope), which captured the band reaching a new creative plateau. Afropop.org proclaimed it as “one of the hottest releases of this year”; the Village Voice exclaimed “their music is right on time,” while the New York Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone Magazine and a slew of others took serious notice. In addition to their own albums, Antibalas has been an in-demand presence for numerous compilations including Oulele, Afrobeat…No Go Die! and Red Hot + Riot.
As distinguished as there recordings may be, however, Antibalas has truly become renown via their relentless live show. And though it’s certainly no easy task to keep (and feed) such a vast ensemble on the road, the band has managed to average over 100 live shows a year, traversing the U.S, Canada and Europe in venues large and small be they the sweaty clubs of Brooklyn or in front of hordes of festival goers in places like Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot, Montreux and Roskilde. 2004 also bore witness to the group’s first-ever tour to Japan, as well as debuts at the Glastonbury and Coachella music festivals. Moreover they collaborated live and in the studio with many musical acts, including such heavyweights as Medeski Martin and Wood, TV on the Radio, Baaba Maal and Trey Anastasio.
Always looking to push their unique sound further, Antibalas recently entered the studio to record their fourth album with much-heralded musician/producer John McEntire (Tortoise, Stereolab, Tom Ze). The resulting gem, Security, will be forthcoming from ANTI- Records, known for distinguished releases over the years from such artists as Solomon Burke, Tom Waits and Blackalicious.