The saxophonist’s debut solo outing is a shift towards the meditative, but still crackles with his signature energy
This album marks the solo debut of saxophonist and band leader Shabaka Hutchings, lauded for his work with Sons of Kemet, the Comet Is Coming and Shabaka & the Ancestors. Afrikan Culture finds the now mononymous Shabaka moving away from the frenetic tempos and boisterousness of his other three collaborations and turning inwards towards a more meditative state.
Titles such as 'Black Meditation' or 'Ritual Awakening' hint at a work of open-ended shimmer, one perhaps aimed at rooting meditative practice in sounds more germane to the jazz sound palette – a work allied to recent ambient jazz treasures such as Nala Sinephro’s Space 1.8 and Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the LSO’s Promises. 'Call It a European Paradox' features the bejewelled, open-ended interplay of the kora (the west African lute), the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) and bell-like percussion.
But the reality is that Shabaka in chill mode still remains instantly recognisable. On tracks such as 'Ital is Vital', whose title nods to the life force-affirming vegetarian diet of Rastafarianism, the transcendental yin haziness makes way for Shabaka’s signature tongue work and yang directness. He seems unable to resist playing the flute like his saxophone – with vigour...