Their new record, Runnin’ For The Ghost, on Peace & Rhythm Records, as well as Ithaca’s own, Blank Slate Records — finds them in fine form with provocative new tunes to take on the road, and convert more fans to learn to love astonishing Afrobeat music.
Listen to Runnin’ For The Ghost, and the other Big Mean Sound Machine albums in this Spotify playlist…
Intriguing, Impressive Modern Afrobeat
On the first single, “Seeing the Bigger Picture,” Big Mean Sound Machine catches a great groove on this joyful tune. The soaring horns take it high, and the synthesizer, percussion, drum & bass make it a fun, funky, far-out Afrobeat dance tune that gets you in the head & the hips. Listen to it here…
In this Afropop Worldwide article, they mention how famous Congolese guitarist, Franco, “took offense that more Europeans and Americans, who were then discovering modern African styles, did not embrace him more vigorously.” The author says that, “Cities across America now support local Afrobeat bands modeled after Fela’s trademark sound,” and yet, Central African music (hugely popular all over Africa) remains a specialized taste in the West.
I think Big Mean Sound Machine has now succeeded in capturing part of that vibe, and making it sound modern and accessible to Westerners’ ears.
“Hired Guns” and “The G” are the most Dub heavy tunes, and introduce some electronic elements that will impress jamtronica fans.
“Burning Van” & “Sahara Cellphones” stick closest to the Afrobeat template, and yet, carry Big Mean Sound Machine’s one-of-a kind, experimental take on the genre. This band always finds a good groove you can dance tune.
“Triple Bacon” is the funkiest Afrobeat tune on Runnin’ For The Ghost, and made my list of Best Instrumental Funk Songs of 2017. I love the recognizable Afrobeat drum patterns, staccato, high-energy horns, and the way the guitar dances in & out.
My only complaint about Runnin’ For The Ghost is with the weird sounds injected into tunes unnecessarily, and on some songs, the synthesizer overpowers the percussion and horn section (the band’s greatest strength).
Overall, Runnin’ For The Ghost is a remarkable record that I recommend you order on vinyl here.
Watch Big Mean Sound Machine go hard live in Pittsburgh in this outstanding video…