Demanding a full embrace, both visually and aurally, Golden Dawn Arkestra
is not an EP for the faintly funky. Yes, Sun Ra is a clear influence, but this is its own cosmic trip. Opener “Afropocalpyse” allows cascading keys, half dirge and half call to prayer, to set the tone before the well-delivered groove arrives. Layered, with an appropriate focus placed on the brass, until the vintage vocal, tinged gracefully yet slick, takes the lead. Showcasing Golden Dawn Arkestra’s engaging ability to mix eras, sounds, and influences, the track only concludes once a soaring guitar lead is given its due.
“Oasis (The Legend of Nathaniel Horne)” eases into its theme slowly: spaghetti-Western bass and whistle alternating with horns and guitar for an entrancing desert odyssey, doors of perception open wide. “Dimensions” goes further into the psychic groove-lands, requesting the listener to ‘sing and dance’ and ‘come and join us now,’ as though psych-funk had fueled Random Access Memories
rather than disco.
The vocal chant, heavy groove, and prominent horn melodies of afrobeat make “Masakayli” a standout, which nicely sets up the ambling future/past caravan music of “Saharan Knights.” Instruments pop, creating an appropriately massive atmosphere, before striding surf-rock takes the tune into sonic dervishes not often whirled. Dancing off with “Selemat,” equally influenced by snake and Moog charmers, this too-short blast of timeless creativity is delightfully dusty despite its polished elements.
“Afropocalypse” is available as a free download, while the whole album is stream-only until the August 19th release date:
As a bonus, in case you’re at all questioning how wild and funky things would get live, here’s a rendition of Mulatu Astatke’s “Kasalèfkut Hulu:”