Dec 16, 2015

From Spain: Alma Afrobeat Ensemble - It's Time

It’s Time is Barcelona based Alma Afrobeat Ensemble’s third album, the second on Slow Walk Music records, and first with the Nigerian singer Joe “Olawale” Psalmist (Lagos, Nigeria) singing in English, Yoruba, and Broken English. It’s Time features songs that hearken back to the origins of Afrobeat; extended, elegant arrangements, socially and politically charged lyrics, and irresistibly danceable grooves. Add in a dose of trance, some unique improvisational solos, plus a modern feeling, and you have It’s Time.

Side A of the album features new tunes recorded in the band’s hometown of Barcelona, while Side B features creative reevaluations by various DJ’s., which results in some very unique, creative and psychedelic sonic landscapes. The modern, warm sound is due not only to the band, but to the production of Marc Molas in El Tostadero Studios (Barcelona) and the mastering of Alex Psaroudakis, in Boston. The album will initially be distributed by Sony Music, Xango, and Home Grown in Spain, Benelux and the USA ,respectively.

The band has also continued their tradition of featuring a painting on their album cover. Last year’s album Life No Get Dublicate featured legendary Nigerian artist Lemi Ghariokwu, and It’s Time features a beautiful work from a young up and coming artist from Gambia who lives in Madrid named Yusupha Gai, whose style can only be described as Afro-Cubism.

The title track, “It’s Time”, expresses the idea that it truly is time for a change. The hard-hitting intro is reminiscent of old soul tunes, which have always been a big inuence for AAbE and Joe Psalmist. “Shakedown” addresses the current state of racist authoritarian institutions and their abuse of power. “Live and Let’s Live” expounds on the idea that not only must we let others alone, but we cannot forget to enjoy life ourselves. Finally, “Lost” peers into the nature of friendship and human relations and what it means to be “good”.

The reinterpretations on the B side of the album include a festive tropical party remix of the classic AAbE tune, “New School” by DJ Farmo (France/Barcelona). This cut also includes some top-notch harmonica playing from Farmo, as well as the vocal stylings of Tauro, from the hip-hop group Black Baudelaire. DJ Quiet (Houston/Barcelona) gives us his “cool down” interpretation of AAbE, providing a trance laden atmosphere on DWB Breakdown .

DJ Phader (Chicago/Barcelona) instills some psychedelic punch with Coupé-Decalé inspired guitars in his reinterpretation of the title track. Next we move to Dub territory with Los Kalakos going interspatial on Lost in Dub. The album ends with a dance-ready track from Ray Lugo (Kokolo Afrobeat, the Boogaloo Destroyers, Terricos) called Room Enough for Us.

It’s Time is a contrastive reevaluation of the modern state of Afrobeat, which reaffirms AAbE’s role as an international catalyst for that same style. It is both classic in its respect for the roots of the genre, yet modern and forward-thinking in its compositional style and aesthetic relevance. 

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