From the opening blast of The Funk Ark’s new album High Noon, it’s clear that the D.C. ensemble has adjusted its attitude since last year’s From The Rooftops, which had a high afrobeat IQ but not nearly enough fight. Every second of High Noon, by contrast, sounds like something is at stake, even if it’s just the band’s own satisfaction with its hybrid of Nigerian heat, American groove, and Latin flair. Producer Adrián Quesada (of Austin, Texas’ well-traveled Grupo Fantasma) deserves his share of credit: All the shaping and editing favors momentum over noodly distraction, and The Funk Ark itself obviously decided that it’s better to be a force than merely be a cool concept. (Even the midtempo stuff—“El Rancho Motel,” “High Noon,” etc.—tends to be propulsive in one way or another.) Non-African afrobeat bands inherently demand some suspension of disbelief from anybody who knows the origins of the music; with High Noon, The Funk Ark has responded to that dilemma in the most efficient way possible: by favoring energy over homage.
The Funk Ark performs at 8:30 p.m. with Sir Joe Quarterman and Frank Mitchell Jr. at The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $22.50. thehamiltondc.com. (202) 787-1000.