JARIBU AFROBEAT ARKESTRA-JARIBU.

JARIBU AFROBEAT ARKESTRA-JARIBU.

Over the last few years, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra have established a reputation as one of the most exciting live bands in Japan. That’s been the case since the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their debut album Afro Sound System in 2009. Released to critical acclaim, Afro Sound System won over DJs and music fans. So popular was Afro Sound System that it quickly sold out. After that, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra  were invited to play at one of the most prestigious festivals in Japan, the 2009 Fuji Rock Festival. 

Anyone whose at attended The Fuji Rock Festival will know, that this is no ordinary festival. No. It’s Japan’s biggest and most prestigious festival. For the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra, this was the perfect showcase for their music. When the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra they weren’t overawed. Far from it. Instead, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra stole the show. They won over the audience with their unique brand of Neo Afrobeat.

Inspired by the music of the legendary Fela Kuti, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra fuse Afrobeat with funk, soul and rock. They showcased this on Afro Sound System. However, following the release of Afro Sound System, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra started looking for a way to move their music forward. There was no way that the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra were going to stand still when they began recording their sophomore album, Mediacracy.

Before the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their sophomore album Mediacracy, they released a single in 2010. This was Legend of Yoruba Part 1 and 2. It was released as limited edition of 300, in late 2010, on Soul Garden Records. Then two years later, in 2012, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their final single on Soul Garden Records, Deeper. After Deeper, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra signed to  German label Tramp Records.

Three years after the released of their debut album  Afro Sound System, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra were ready to release their sophomore album. It had been recorded over the past couple of years. During that period, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra had been honing their sound. They were one of the most exciting bands in Japan. This translated onto their sophomore album Mediacracy, which was released on Tramp Records.

Before the release of Mediacracy, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released the single Tricky Liars on Tramp Records. It was a tantalising taste of the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s new sound. Tricky Liars whet the appetite of music lovers.

When Mediacracy was released, it marked a coming of age for the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra. Three years had passed since the release  of Afro Sound System. It had been worth the wait. Mediacracy, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra was released to widespread critical acclaim. The JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s brand of Neo Afrobeat had won friends and influenced people. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be another three years until the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released their third album.

It wasn’t. Instead, two years passed. JariBu was released on 16th June 2014, on Tramp Records. At last, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra were back. However, would JariBu be a fitting followup to Mediacracy?

For JariBu, ten tracks were written. Yuichiro Kubo wrote Devil Parts 1 and 2, One By One, Yellow Joint and Dancers In The Darkness. He also cowrote Wild Pansy with Mi-Chang, who wrote Unrevealed Truth. Va-O penned KEW, TETTA wrote Afro Rodeo and Yuji Okumura contributed Witness and Bomb. These ten tracks became JariBu.

When recording of JariBu began, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra were joined by some guest artists. The JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s lineup included Mi-Chang, who played woodblock, cowbell, cho and xequere. MAKI played flute and cho, while Va-O played tenor saxophone and cho. Keyboard maestro Masamichi Ishikawa played Hammond organ, piano, clavinet, piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes. MC Yuji Okumura played congas, TETTA guitar, and Tetsuya Kawabata drums and percussion. Yuichiro Kubo played bass and percussion. Guest artists included baritone saxophonist Toraza Udagawa, trumpeter Masami Hokama and Al Sato on cho. Once the ten tracks were recorded, they became JariBu, which I’ll tell you about.

Jaribu opens with Devil (Parts 1and 2). A lone bass sets the scene for the rest of the rhythm section. They explode into action. Seamlessly,  Afrobeat and funk melts into one. Meanwhile, jazz-tinged keyboards provide a contrast. It’s a glorious combination. Things get even better when a flute is dropped in. This takes the track in the direction of early seventies Blaxploitation. Then when growling, grizzled horns are unleashed, an authentic slice of Afrobeat unfolds. All the time, the rhythm section and a myriad of percussion propel the arrangement along. Later, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra jam before kicking loose. Together, they fuse Afrobeat, jazz, and funk, before the track reaches its dramatic crescendo. This whets your appetite for what’s still to come.

Straight away, the unmistakable sound of the Hammond organ combines with the rhythm section and braying horns on One By One. They fuse funk and Afrobeat with scorching, blistering rocky guitars. A baritone saxophone punctuates the arrangement, while waves of Hammond organ fill in the gaps left by the guitar. The Hammond organ and guitar drive each other to greater heights. Each tries to steal the show. They’re also the perfect foil for each other. Later, a sultry, jazzy,saxophone is added. It looks like producing a show-stealing performance as it combines power, passion and control. Then when the guitar returns, it rises to challenge, and delivers a show stealing performance. That’s despite the rest of the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra raising their game during the solos. Quite simply, it’s a spellbinding performance from the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra.

A lone buzzing bass opens KEW. It’s a slow, mellow track. The rhythm section are joined by grizzled horns and a Fender Rhodes. They drop the tempo and create a laid-back, jazz-tinged track. It meanders along, taking on a seventies sound. A guitar is panned hard left and unleashes a captivating solo. Intricate and unobtrusive describes it. Equally captivating is the flute solo. It quivers, shivers and shimmers above the arrangement with growling horns for company. The result is a quite beautiful, laid-back track.

Wild Pansy is a track that gradually reveals its secrets. A cowbell beats out the rhythm while a probing bass sets the scene for the rest of the rhythm section. Before long, they joined forces with Ggowling horns and percussion to create a mesmeric track. Partly, that’s because of the rhythm section. The bass drives the arrangement along. It’s helped along by a myriad of percussive delights. Later, stabs of piano and a dramatic, braying horn are added. By now, an irresistible and joyous track has revealed its secrets and the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra in full flow is a joy to behold.

As Afro Rodeo  begins, a crystalline guitar is panned. It surrounds you. Meanwhile, percussion provides the heartbeat. Swathes of Hammond organ and blazing horns join the rhythm section and the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra kick loose. They sweep you along in their midst, as they fuse Afrobeat, funk and jazz. Briefly, punchy and braying horns take the track in the direction of free jazz. Later, the horns join a Hammond organ, percussion, a pounding, funky rhythm section and joyous harmonies. What a combination. Together, they create a track that’s variously dramatic, anthemic and always, has a joyous feel-good sound. It’s bound to become a festival favourite.

Drums provide a hypnotic and mesmeric heartbeat to Witness. Before long, an impassioned vocal enters. The lyrics are delivered with power and passion. Then chiming guitars, keyboards and the funky rhythm section combine with percussion. The guitars remind me of many a James Brown track, while the keyboards have a sixties cinematic sound. Later, the scorching horns sound as if they come from an old Afrobeat album. They’re delivered with power, the notes soaring above the arrangement. There it stays. It’s a showboating performance. This spurs the rest of the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra on. They drive each other to greater heights. That’s the case on this mesmeric, hypnotic, fusion of Afrobeat, funk and jazz.

Dramatic and cinematic describes Unrevealed Truth. It sounds not unlike an old Blaxploitation track. It’s the urgent piano and stabs of grizzled horns that leads to this comparison. Things soon start to change. Elegant flourishes of jazzy piano and percussion are added. The comparison ends when tender, soulful harmonies are added. After that, the arrangement veers between jazzy, floaty, funky, dramatic and urgent. Braying horns are added as things get funky, before we take a detour via jazz as musical genres melt into one. Everything from Afrobeat, funk, jazz, jazz-funk and soul combine to create one of JariBu’s highlight.

Drums and bursts of mellow, jazz-tinged, Fender Rhodes join a pounding bass on Yellow Joint. Soon, punchy horns make their dramatic presence felt. Then a blistering, rocky guitar solo follows. It’s as if the spirit of Jimi Hendrix has been tapped into. Mesmeric and blistering it’s the best guitar licks on JariBu. When it’s the turn of the flute to take centre-stage, it creates a laid-back, summery vibe. All the time, the bass glues the rhythm section together. Along with the horns it adds a dramatic backdrop, while bursts of percussion and Fender Rhodes pad out the arrangement, before the track reaches a dramatic ending.

Not for the first time, the bass opens Dancers In The Darkness. It’s joined by chiming guitars, braying horns and percussion. The arrangement is slow, understated and meanders along. Funky and jazz-tinged, it allows the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra to showcase their considerable talents. We hear a very different, quite understated and laid-back sound during this seven minute track.

Closing JariBu is Bomb, where Afrobeat is given a makeover. The tough, distinctive sound of the clavinet joins rolls of drums as the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra kick loose. There’s no holding them back. Stabs of blazing horns, a shimmering flute and driving rhythm section join percussion in propelling the arrangement. Punctuating the arrangement are occasional shouts of “boom.” Later, a powerful vocal is unleashed. It’s sung in a call and response style. All the time, a frenetic JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra seem determined to close JariBu on a high. They don’t disappoint. No way. Bomb is an explosive track guaranteed to fill any dance-floor.

That’s the story of JariBu, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s third album. Released on 16th June 2014, on Tramp Records, JariBu is the best album of the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s three album career. They seem to improve with each album they release. 

They’ve come a long way since they released their debut album Afro Sound System in 2009. It was released to critical acclaim. Critics realised that here was a band with potentially, a big future ahead of them. Their sophomore album was going to be hugely important. Sophomore albums always are.

Mediacracy was released in 2012. Three long years had passed since the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released of their debut album, Afro Sound System. Only then, were the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra ready to release their sophomore album, Mediacracy.  It had been recorded over the past couple of years. During that period, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra had been honing their sound. Now they were one of the most exciting bands in Japan. This translated onto their sophomore album Mediacracy, which proved to be a coming of age for the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra.

Rather than rush their sophomore album Mediacracy, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra took time to get it right. Sophomore albums are notoriously tricky. Many bands struggle with sophomore albums. The problem is, usually, their debut album is released before they sign to a label. Then, after a successful debut album, a sophomore album is often written quickly, when the band is touring their previous album. This wasn’t the case with the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra. Their patience was rewarded when Mediacracy was released to widespread critical acclaim. So, having learnt this important lesson, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra didn’t rush out their third album JariBu.

No. Two years passed before the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra released JariBu. Again, their patience has been rewarded. JariBu is a game-changer. A delicious fusion of Afrobeat, free jazz, funk, jazz, jazz-funk, rock and soul, JariBu is without doubt, the best album the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra  have released. It surpasses the quality of their two previous album. The JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra have matured as a band musically. As a result, JariBu is a much more eclectic album.

The best way to describe JariBu is a melting pot of musical genres and influences. Mostly, the tracks are the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra’s unique brand of Neo Afrobeat. However, sometimes, the JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra take diversions via Afrobeat, free jazz, funk, jazz, jazz-funk, rock and soul. This keeps things interesting. You’re never sure which direction the music is heading? Sometimes, songs explode joyously into life, becoming irresistible and hook-laden. Other times, the music is veers between dramatic and urgent, to hypnotic and mesmeric, to beautiful and joyous, right through to laid-back and mellow. Always, the music on JariBu is captivating and compelling. No wonder. This is the multitalented JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra critically acclaimed third album JariBu we’re talking about. 

JARIBU AFROBEAT ARKESTRA-JARIBU.

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