July 1, 2011

Shaolin Afronauts | Flight Of The Ancients

ARTIST:  Shaolin Afronauts
TITLE:  Flight Of The Ancients
LABEL:  Freestyle 
REVIEW:  This is the debut album for the Shaolin Afronauts, an 11-piece instrumental band from Adelaide, Australia.  Many of the band members also play in the Transatlantics, a soul and funk band.  Funk is certainly part of the equation here, but the emphasis is on Afrobeat.  The players also have an affinity for 70’s era free jazz (think Pharoah Sanders and obviously Sun Ra), which comes through in the complex and non-intuitive horn lines that they play over the propulsive Afrobeat rhythms.  Frequent use of minor keys reminds me of Mulatu Astatqe’s Ethio-Jazz as well.  It’s a heady set of influences for a young band, and it puts them in direct competition with some outstanding groups: The Budos Band and The Superpowers come immediately to mind.  What really makes the Shaolin Afronauts stand out are their compositions -- they go beyond standard riff-based Afrobeat with intricate 3-horn arrangements and a series of solos that go far out while staying in the pocket.  A very impressive debut that will sit comfortably on the shelf with the best of progressive Afrobeat.
TOP TRACKS:    1    2    3    6
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    4    5    7    8

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