Review: Ikebe Shakedown – Stone By Stone

The first thing worthy of note about Ikebe Shakedown’s second full length album for Ubiquity Records, is the cover art – simple, striking, 70s influenced, and very effective. It’s a suitably adequate metaphor for the music within the packaging, as Ikebe (pronounced ee-kay-bay) take a very focused approach to playing that is firmly in the groove.

The seven-piece instrumental afro funk band from Brooklyn had previously recorded at Dunham studios and now have the honour of having recorded this latest album at the renowned “House Of Soul” synonymous with Brooklyn’s Daptone Records – lending its analog warmth and clarity of sound to the record’s production. It is also a heavier affair than their first album with plenty of hard driving, dance floor cuts that display both the band’s musical prowess and the tasteful restraint they employ in delivering their sound. Heavy numbers from the powerful strut of “The Offering”, the catchy hook laden “By Hook Or By Crook” and the deft changes of “Last Stand”, pack a thrilling groove for the movers and shakers out there.

Take this with some rather thoughtful tracks, like “Rio Grande” which nicely adds some light vibes and flute amongst the percolating percussion and neat bass; or darker tones, such as the horn-lead “The Illusion” – The emotional high-points often supplied by the killer horn section on this whole set. There’s a great balance to the mix of African sounds and American funk in equal measures. Only on “Chosen Path” do we hear a straight-up afrobeat sound, complete with playful organ, Fela style. Brooklyn’s ‘afro funk juggernaught’ is back, more vital than ever. Get on board or get the hell out of the way.