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Tony Allen - There Is No End Music Album Reviews


Tony Allen - There Is No End Music Album Reviews
A posthumous album captures the legendary drummer and Afrobeat icon at his most copacetic and polished, meeting collaborators at their level even as he urges them to his.

In a video from a Paris recording session in 2014, Tony Oladipo Allen jams behind a drum set, hands lightly grasping the sticks, his body at ease. His mind was likely laser-focused on the rhythms, and yet nothing about him reads tense or forced. In this moment, the late drummer, composer, and Fela Kuti collaborator personifies Black cool—a term that, to borrow from the Roots drummer Questlove’s description, means Allen radiated “cool heat, intensity held in check by reserves of self-possession.”

During his 60-plus-year career, Allen pioneered a genre fused with multiple signifiers of Black cool—jazz, highlife, soul, funk—while traveling the world as a solo artist and shaping the musical direction of Africa ’70, one of the most captivating bands in Afrobeat. Yet one of his most impactful gifts was his commitment to collaborating with a wide range of musicians. On his final, posthumous album, There Is No End, he’s entirely in his wheelhouse, directing up-and-comers and veterans as they find their place in his steps. It’s an intimidating mission for any artist—melding their own distinctive sound to the amorphous beats of those still sharpening their arsenal. But Allen meets his collaborators where they are and transfers not only his musical knowledge but his ability to embody coolness while deep within a performance.

Allen composed all of the beats on the 14-track album and shares production credits with Berlin-based producer Vincent Taeger and French musician Vincent Taurelle. Like his dynamic work with known and unknown artists on 2006’s Lagos No Shaking, “Deer in Headlights” is a magnetic meeting between the drummer and Detroit rapper Danny Brown. It runs like a whip-smart back-and-forth, with Brown bringing the hard-edged, always-on-offense style of his home city beside Allen’s restrained, unhurried groove. The hook is instantly memorable, and the transition from melody into Allen’s assured playing is a smooth curveball. ZelooperZ, a rapper in Brown’s Bruiser Brigade collective, is another salient presence. On “Coonta Kinte,” he projects anxiety about America’s need to diminish Black life: “Why you want me in the ground, cover my skin in soil/I’m just a Black man in a world full of colors,” he sing-raps, perhaps unintentionally echoing the thoughts of a character in Ghanian American author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s 2018 collection Friday Black. Both narrators portray anti-Blackness as a constant disruption that requires survivors to cultivate dark humor to survive.

Allen was born when Nigeria was still under British rule, and by the time he joined Fela Kuti’s band in 1964, the country had been independent for less than five years. In 1969, Allen was part of the entourage that traveled to the U.S. with Kuti, settling in Los Angeles during the height of the Black Panthers’ advocacy against state-sanctioned anti-Black violence and their push towards Black economic and social sustainability. The experience profoundly impacted both men. Fela returned to Nigeria emboldened and ready to die for his people. Allen, though not the frontman, molded his compositions to reflect the urgency, rage, heat, and fire of a diaspora under attack. The violence is ceaseless, but on this album, Allen and his collaborators make clear that so too are the collective cries for accountability. On “Hurt Your Soul,” the drums take center stage; on one standout section, snares like gunshots underline rapper Nate Bone’s fear of jumpy law enforcement agents who, while armed, are startled by the slightest sign of Black activity.

Aside from showcasing a legend in top form, the album also serves as an arrow toward future stars. British-born artist Lava La Rue’s ethereal yet confident tone and delivery on “One Inna Million” channels the agility of FKA twigs. Tsunami is quietly menacing on “Très Magnifique,” and Sampa the Great is enthralling both as a feature on “Stumbling Down” and as a student of Allen’s work: As an artist from Zambia who’s based in Australia and influenced by genres beyond her native country, including hip-hop and R&B, Sampa has faced a similar challenge of being put in a box.

While the breadth of voices here highlights Allen’s constant search for new creators, it also means the album tapers off in places. Tracks like “Rich Black,” featuring Koreatown Oddity, and “Gang on Holiday,” with Jeremiah Jae, could have been trimmed for a tighter sequence. Even the earlier released single “Cosmosis,” alongside Skepta and Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri, would have best served as an interlude connecting Okri’s poetry to the album’s overarching themes of self-interrogation and displacement. Its existential musings on the fickleness of world peace feel out of place and unmoored against the record’s more immediate and insular reflections of the present.

One of the most crushing moments of the pandemic has been the interruption of rituals, specifically homegoings. Bidding farewell to those we love while unable to congregate and celebrate the lives they lived means that mourning Tony Allen was a global but lonely act. The crowds that would have turned into listening parties were impossible to amass; amid worldwide despair, it felt almost selfish to mourn him with communal reverence that acknowledged his instrumental mastery and legacy. There Is No End is Allen as his most copacetic, polished self. It doesn’t feel like the finish line, but rather a passing of the baton—to artists who compelled him to evolve, and to fans always willing to be surprised.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Tony Allen - There Is No End Music Album Reviews Tony Allen - There Is No End Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, May 17, 2021 Rating: 5

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