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Album Review

Shabaka: Afrikan Culture

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Shabaka: Afrikan Culture
It would be easy to mislay one's critical faculties when it comes to Shabaka Hutchings. The tenor saxophonist and clarinetist has since 2015 so invigorated the British jazz scene and, more recently, the international one, while eloquently articulating the potential of Afrikan cosmological thinking to realign the disorders of the modern industrial world, that the gravitational pull is powerful.

Hutchings is the centrifugal force in three high-voltage bands: Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming and the South African-centered Shabaka & the Ancestors . Each is shamanistic in spirit and cathartic in effect.

Now, as Shabaka, the name Hutchings has adopted for his solo projects, comes a gentler vibe. On Afrikan Culture, an eight-track digital-only EP lasting around twenty-five minutes, there is no tenor saxophone, and not much clarinet, and even less heat. Instead the centre of attention is a layered construct of Japanese shakuhachi (wooden end-blown flutes), an African kora (harp) and mbira (thumb piano), and bells (provenance unknown). There is little of the electronic sonic-manipulation of The Comet Is Coming, though there are touches of Jon Hassell-like effects wizardry on track six, "Explore Inner Space."

The obvious ancestor of Afrikan Culture is clarinetist Tony Scott's Music For Zen Meditation (Verve, 1964), which also used shakuhachi and, instead of a kora, a Japanese koto (zither). Putting aside the notion of listening to music during zen meditation—the only sound a zen sitter is meant to focus on is that of one hand clapping—Scott's album was, and still is, graceful and centred and beautiful.

So is Afrikan Culture.

Track Listing

Black Meditation; Call It A European Paradox; Ital Is Vital; Memories Don’t Live Like People Do; Ritual Awakening; Explore Inner Space; The Dimension Of Subtle Awareness; Rebirth.

Personnel

Shabaka Hutchings: woodwinds.

Additional Instrumentation

Shabaka: shakuhachi flutes, clarinet, bass clarinet, kora, mbira, bells.

Album information

Title: Afrikan Culture | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Impulse! Records

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