This article originally appeared on ALARM PRESS.
Afrobeat is made to be experienced live. The large bands, spontaneous energy, and multitude of musical influences (fusing funk, R&B, and traditional African sound) are ideal for a concert experience.
First coming to prominence with dynamic bandleader Fela Kuti during the political and social turmoil of the 1960s, Afrobeat is energized by participation and action, and best appreciated by a live (and preferably dancing) audience.
It’s interesting, then, to hear the in-studio incarnation of one of the county’s up-and-coming ambassadors of the genre. The unambiguously named Chicago Afrobeat Project has a reputation for being able to throw down on the live stage. The group’s multi-rhythmic sound is comfortably situated between jazz, Yoruban music, and Chicago dance. In their second studio outing, (A) Move to Silent Unrest, the group continues to put a modern and fresh spin on the politically sparked sounds of Afrobeat.
The vibrancy that they bring to live performances, however, is lost in translation on CD. The production of the album is muted and restrained, akin to background music. The band’s buzzing brass work lacks immediacy, and the percussion limps along. A live album or DVD is a logical remedy until the group’s studio production matches its on-stage intensity.
- Keidra Chaney