Afrit Nebula: Inalienable

Hastings-based band improvises over charts influenced by Middle Eastern music, Scriabin, Frank Zappa, Steve Reich and more

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On first listening to this album by Hastings-based band Afrit Nebula you are thrown into brisk, rhythmically forceful music, with a heavy Middle Eastern leaning. This is where the strength is and the absence of a chordal instrument gives greater latitude.

Strong bass lines from Ken Edwards and Yair Katz’s lively drumming form a bedrock on which the sinuous lines of Elaine Edwards’ soprano flourish, with Dervish-like circular excursions, notably on Inalienable and Time Is Now/Tixerb Kufyeh (anagrammatically subtitled for Remainers). Curiously, the slower track, Momentum, sees the bass struggling not to go into Willie Dixon’s Spoonful.

Soprano is also used on Scrabblin’ With Scriabin, after a section where the keyboard is tuned into vibraphone mode, but the flavour of composition alters for the Reichian Exspira Machina. Here piano and bass take up system repetition which, after moving into a contrasting area using space and voice, resumes with impressively propulsive percussion from Jamie Harris, on what sounds like congas.

For this writer, Kwaidan-Al is the least interesting, lacking variation at the start, and although it’s rescued by the flute solo, it ventures into Frank Zappa territory (though unfortunately not his earlier Uncle Meat period) especially in the vocals. The implications of mechanical intelligence are admittedly a nightmare, but the (one hopes) purposefully banal lyrics and wordless vocals verge on the irritating. A minor quibble however, and the sentiment in The World Is Burning is particularly apposite, a track that has some attractive marimba-like key work.

Discography
Inalienable; Momentum; Time Is Now/Tixerb Kufyeh; Scrabblin’ With Scriabin; Kwaidan-Al; Exspira Machina (Steam Pumps); The World Is Burning (56.00)
Elaine Edwards (f, ss, kyb, p, v); Ken Edwards (elb, v); Yair Katz (d, pc, v, tracks 1-5, 7); Jamie Harris (pc, v, track 6). Hastings, September 2019, March 2022.
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