By Oliver Nugent
February 04, 2013
Though they may never credit themselves with the imperial-like qualities of the free jazz trailblazers of the ‘60s or the space jazz pioneers of the ‘70s, Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra blaze their own trail in their unique brand of afrobeat music. A seemingly automatic, cosmic jazz age has been bestowed upon us by the tracks of their new, supernaturally-astonishing wave of music – which is constantly embracing the paradox between new and old, as epitomised by recent track titles such as ‘Future Ancestors’.
But as far as curtain-raisers go, ‘African Kings’, from the band’s first, self-titled album (2010), is a natural choice. Although different from its ancestors, a track of this brilliance easily takes its place alongside the likes of all-time greats such as Tony Allen’s ’Ikeja Roads’ and Carl Craig’s ‘A Wonderful Life’. Well-versed in bringing Afrobeat to the people of Leeds, AAA are already something of a local sensation – and soon begin to take HiFi’s grateful attendees through the journey of their recently-released second album, Towards Other Worlds (2012).
Indeed, the show, though without lyrics, speaks volumes for the social and political context of their music, with prevailing waves of aggression that entrance the audience for the entire set. The story of their second album gradually unravels; a story of shameful behaviours, events, attitudes, movements and social decay, which in the words of the band’s saxophonist Pete Williams “…is everywhere we look; it is unavoidable”. With an unprecedented amount of instrumentation to orchestrate Ariya, the nine-man band excels in spinning this yarn. And as with any great story, the band leaves the audience gasping for more with the mesmeric cliff-hanger ‘New Frontiers’. Indeed, after speaking to the band’s members, who are both passionate and humble about their conquest, there is no doubt that Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra’s second album will not be their last. Into which form the band will shapeshift next is unknown, but with a their third album due in late 2013-early 2014, this tremendously talented band are already hard at work on their next piece of musical genius.