Antibalas: Cooking Up Afrobeat In A Sweltering Kitchen | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Antibalas: Cooking Up Afrobeat In A Sweltering Kitchen

Years ago, without setting out to do so, the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas jumped out ahead of the pop-culture curve in two ways. First, geography: The band was formed in Brooklyn in the 1990s, before the New York borough became the mecca of independent music that it is today. Second, the music itself: Afrobeat makes its way into lots of popular music today, but Antibalas was doing it before it had a mainstream foothold.

Antibalas contains 11 people, all hard at work in a complex musical machine. Rhythm tends to lead the way, with each song evolving over several minutes. The members have been busy with separate projects for the past five years, but with their latest album, simply titled Antibalas, they've reunited. The group's lead singer, Amayo, says time is an essential ingredient of the music he and his bandmates make.

"We've got a lot of tunes on our menu that we play over and over again. It takes, sometimes, a year or two before the song actually starts to make some sense," Amayo tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "That's the beauty of being in an orchestra of this size: You let the song marinate, as you would a fine meal or a fine wine. I think this record is, for me, a fine wine. It finally matured."

Martin Perna, Antibalas' founder and baritone sax player, says time isn't the only important variable: Temperature matters, too.

"We did a show a couple years ago in New York City, in December, in the street," Perna says. "We asked to have these big gas heaters on the side of the stage to just blow hot air at least on our part, because when it's cold, the wind instruments — the trumpets, saxophones, trombone — actually go down in pitch."

You can hear more of Rachel Martin's conversation with Antibalas by clicking the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, June 3, 2015

A play and an exhibit explore luxury, power and how women present themselves and are perceived.

NPR

Grass Gourmands: A Herbivore Food Mystery On The African Savanna

A new study sheds light on a longstanding ecological question: How do so many species like impalas and elephants co-exist when they're all feeding on the same limited foods?
NPR

5 Things You Should Know About Lincoln Chafee

In 2002, Lincoln Chafee was the only Republican senator to vote against authorizing the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Some Republican colleagues referred to him as "the missing Linc."
NPR

Experts Debate: Will Computers Edge People Out Of Entire Careers?

Machines have been taking jobs forever. Computers and software are doing things people were paid to do. They are booking airplane flights. Filing our taxes. And they are getting better all the time.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.