Monday, August 10, 2009

Album Review: Aphrodesia-Precious Commodity

Precious Commodity, the new album by Aphrodesia out July 8, 2009 on Shackrobeat Records, is an infectiously funky, diverse album that leaves you no choice but to get up dance while listening. Aphrodesia is a politically opinionated Afro-funk collective out of San Francisco, CA that has a reputation for their electric stage presence and ability to master a variety of African musical styles.

Aphrodesia came into existence as a band in 2003 in the "backyard shack" of bassist Ezra Gale. Their sound has always been powerful and innovative fueled by funked out guitar lines and churning percussion with an industrial-strength horn section belting out section lines and solos. What sets Aphrodesia apart perhaps the most are their female lead vocalists. Afrobeat was created as, and has been for the most part continued to be, a male-dominated genre where female voices were secondary, backup accompaniment, to the male lead vocals. As they've always been unafraid to do, Aphrodesia turns that institution on its head.

Their feminist, anti-establishment leanings extend past their arrangements and into their song lyrics throughout Precious Commodity. The song's title track is an allusion to prostitution in SE Asia. "The song is the story of this trans-continental sex trade, a kind of mockery of this old game where man thinks he is winning," explains singer and songwriter Lara Maykovich. "Power and money are evidently not the final quench. The thirst is satisfied by a more precious commodity. Sex, our most powerful possession and that which connects us to the unstoppable nature that man will never control. We began to think about the West's misconceptions on what is of value. The fear-driven mass of consumption, our denial of death that obstructs us from seeing what is truly precious.”

Aphrodesia as a whole takes on Maykovich's identity--her voice, the range of African styles and languages in which she sings, her forthright and dynamic style. Having spent time in Zimbabwe and Ghana, she brings an ingenuity to the band making it more than just an afrobeat band. That ingenuity is accentuated and replicated by the rest of the band who adhere to the same heterogeneous approach and philosophy.

Precious Commodity is a sensational album that continues Aphrodesia's trend of albums that push the genre of afrobeat to new levels. Incorporating instruments like thumb pianos and broadening their approach to their style has allowed for the group to make an album that is truly phenomenal. The album is available on Itunes as well as at You honestly do not have to be a fan of afrobeat, African music, world music, or whatever other label people you don't like to be associated with to enjoy this album. It is simply great music that is accessible to anyone.

1 comment:

Garrett said...

Awesome post man, great album too!