Brothers and Sisters Lakuta Tru Thoughts It’s Time Alma Afrobeat Ensemble Slow Walk Music When they hit London with their crisscross Ghanaian highlife and animated Nigerian afrobeat rhythms back in the 1970s, Osibisa and Fela Kuti lit a path between Africa and Europe that has since become a highway. The latest exciting Afrocentric act to lure punters on to English dance floors is based in the seaside town of Brighton and co-fronted by a charismatic female vocalist of Tanzanian-Kenyan origin. Meanwhile, in Barcelona, local music lovers are gyrating to the rhythms of an equally brilliant band led by a Nigerian male lead singer. In outstanding tracks that open their respective new albums, Lakuta and Alma Afrobeat Ensemble update the genre that Fela Kuti hatched half a century ago, while honouring the Afrobeat pioneer’s proclivity for socially and politically charged commentary and compositional and arranging flair with their funky brass, electric guitar, organ and tribal drum-styled songs. In Alma Afrobeat Ensemble’s dance-inducing lead title track It’s Time, singer Joe “Olawale” Psalmist exhorts the need for change (in Yoruban), as hefty horn hooks work in tandem with percussionists and chorus singers. With similar back-up, Siggi Mwasote (in English) rails against sexual prejudice in Lakuta’s punchy opener, Bata Boy. After that, the bands take somewhat divergent routes. Elsewhere on their auspicious debut album Brothers and Sisters, Lakuta tap guitar riffs not dissimilar to those associated with Congolese soukous to energise songs that enunciate the difficulty of parenting in poverty ( Rice & Peace) and comment on litigious tendencies in the commercial music sector ( So Sue Us). In Changanya, which espouses an openminded attitude to crosscultural fusion, the band practises what it preaches by melding West African kora and Cuban brass with a flamenco chord progression. The instrumental Pique harnesses mesmerising Ethiopian-flavoured horn lines in between jazzy saxophone, trombone and guitar breaks. In Lose Yourself, a number with acid jazz overtones, Siggi Mwasote’s soulful singing soars to gospel heights. In the opening self-tagged “Side A” section of their first album with Psalmist, Alma Afrobeat Ensemble’s trancelike rhythms, elongated tracks and improvised solos skirt closer to the original Afrobeat template. Indeed, an 8½ minute diatribe in English addressing police abuse of power is so authentic sounding that it could easily pass for a Fela Kuti original. Featuring feverish female chorus singing, a scorching Santana-esque electric guitar break and a thunderous trombone solo, Shakedown is a standout. The other extended numbers recorded by the band in Barcelona ( Live and Let’s Live and Lost) are equally well arranged and arresting.