Australia’s very own Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are a seventeen-piece powerhouse blending elements of afro-beat from Nigeria and its surrounding neighbours with a politically-conscious funk/hip hop edge. ‘The System‘ and ‘Shake‘ were released by Melbourne’s Hope Street Recordings as a digital-only (which you can purchase directly off the Hope Street Recordings bandcamp here for $2!!), and the result is a lush, nostalgia-soaked sound that takes you right back to the heyday of 60s and 70s afro-beat funk.
‘The System’ is an unapologetically aggressive funk track with relentless driving motion from Senegalese percussionist/vocalist/dancer Lamine Sonko and the horn section (Tristan Ludowyk, Declan Jones, Nick Lester, Peter Slipper and Andy Williamson). POAO’s MCs and backup vocalists The Public Opinionettes are complemented by a dense texture that envelopes the listener in a cloud of Afrobeat rhythms and layers of brass harmony. Fela Kuti’s influence is clear – from baritone sax to jazzy muted Wurlitzer organ, POAO brings the best parts of 70s funk to meld perfectly with traditional Nigerian rhythms and melodies.
‘Shake’ kicks off with halting horn riffs and that beautiful Wurlitzer (credit to John McAll) sweeping across the cabasa and clave rhythms, before showcasing the vocal talents of the Opinionettes (Kuukua & Lydia Acquah and Fem Belling). Everything has its place within Public Opinion Afro Orchestra – the instrumental voices take as much precedence as the vocals and rhythm section, and the result is a unique and distinctive sound that pays homage to its musical ancestry while still breaking new foreground in the Australian international music scene.
As mentioned before, please show your support for Public Opinion Afro Orchestra and Hope Street Recordings by purchasing ‘System/Shake’ from the bandcamp site here.