Antibalas’ instrumentation emphasizes its two saxophones, two trumpets, trombone, electrical synthesizer and conga drums over comparatively sparse vocals and guitars. It comes across more like an orchestra than a musical troupe that started performing in Manhattan pubs. But regardless of its origins, Antibalas (which means “bulletproof” in Spanish) has emerged as a manic 21st-century neo-symphony of horns, beats, rhythm and culture.
All seven tracks of their new album find a place for Antibalas’ 12 members and their instruments, which can’t be easy. For a band with a serious potential for musical traffic jams, they never lose control of a fluid sound that can go anywhere at anytime.
Grassroots fans of the band would say you haven’t really heard Antibalas until you’ve seen them live, which would be nice if they ever ventured to the Northwest. Until then, listeners will have to settle for Security and its five previous albums. That’s not really so bad, unless you’re my next-door neighbor trying to sleep.