Big Words

14/11/2023Irresistible Belgian Global Groove Ensemble Alpacas Collective Releases Second Multi-Genre Tour De Force

In desperate need of a pick-me-up, we direct our ears to the city of Leuven in the Flemish region of Belgium, where an eleven-piece musical collective by the name of Alpacas Collective has been on a funking roll. Late last year, the group gave us a killer first taste of their far-reaching global grooves on their otherworldly seven-track debut album "Seven Wisdoms of Plutonia", blending a whole bunch of styles to fashion a soundscape of their personal liking. And as if to say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," they stay true to that approach on their follow-up full-length, recently released unto unsuspecting listeners likely bound to nod their heads in mean-mugging agreement.

"Big Words" sees the Alpacas Collective led by percussionist, composer and producer Frederik Kühn pick up right where they left off, serving up seven and a half (one track enjoys a double feature as an extended instrumental) wonderfully arranged psych-funk stunners for fans of everything ranging from afrobeat, to Ethiojazz, Hindustani ragas, Caribbean seasoning and then some. It's almost as if each band member's distinct musical taste was taken into consideration and skilfully tied into the mix to create a piquant amalgamate of utmost zest that would appeal to all involved and those looking on from the outside in amazement. No doubt, these musical explorers cover a lot of ground, "from Lagos to Addis Ababa, from Augusta, Georgia to New Orleans, and from Delhi" to outer space.

What may come as a surprise to those expecting a downright onslaught of lyrical eloquence, "Big Words" actually gets its message across without being overly verbose. The afrobeat-ific title track sets its sights on lying politicians and their "hollow speech" in the spirit of one Fela Kuti, while "Movéfèzè" (Creole for 'villain') has rapper Nèg Madnick spitting venom at "the rich plantation owners who have poisoned his beautiful [...] Martinique with toxic pesticides." On "Boyoma", West African griot Zouratié Koné lets his ngoni do the talking, while "What Could I Do" adds a 'hornful' dose of deep funk, "Bhimpalasi" and "Gunkali" pay their respects to the sitar and "Surrounded" provides a short, cinematic Ethio-breather. Adventurous, evocative, spirited, we're sure you'll find your own (big) words to describe this mythical tour de force.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom