Essential New Music: Antibalas’ “Where The Gods Are In Peace”

Brooklyn’s Antibalas is a multiethnic, multicultural collective that takes its inspiration from Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, while adding a bit of hip hop and rock to the mix. Making good political music can be difficult but, like Fela, Antibalas keeps the groove upfront. Its songs are energetic and uplifting, with frontman and main songwriter Amayo’s half-sung/half-spoken lyrics balancing snide humor with insightful commentary into the roots of the political quandaries we confront on a daily basis. “Gold Rush” opens the set with an irresistible groove and lyrics that remind us of the Native American genocide spawned by the gold rush. They ride a percolating, percussive groove on “Hook And Crook,” a prayer for global unity and reconciliation. The centerpiece is “Tombstown,” a multifaceted, three-part epic, featuring the vocals of Zap Mama, that follows humanity as they leave paradise, confront the forces of darkness and move to build a better tomorrow.

j. poet