Formed in 2009 and fronted by composer, drummer and vocalist Miles Arntzen, formerly of Superhuman Happiness and a member of Anitbalas, the members of the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat-inspired funk pop collective EMEFE is comprised of some of NYC’s most accomplished and most talented, young musicians. After the release of their debut full-length effort, Good Future. which in true DIY fashion was self-produced, the band has had a rapidly growing national profile as they’ve opened for Passion Pit, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Antibalas, and Femi Kuti and Positive Force — but coincidentally, the band’s growing national profile has come about as the collective has refined their sound, revealing a band whose overall sound, aesthetic and live show have matured.
Their self-titled sophomore effort was released earlier this year, and according to the band, the album’s overarching concepts was influenced by Jacques Lusseyran’s And There Was Light, a novel, which chronicles a blind man’s realization of light and love during the French Resistance. Sonically, the material seems to draw heavily from the influence of Fela Kuti, The Talking Heads, Prince and jazz fusion, as well as Superhuman Happiness’ impressive debut, Hands.
“40 Watt,” the latest single off the Brooklyn-based collective’s sophomore effort bears a resemblance to Fela Kuti’s “Everything Scatter” as it builds up a slow-burning, swaggering and spacious groove built around boom-bap like beats and driving African polyrhythm, angular, funk guitar chords, a gorgeous keyboard section that loops in and out of the song paired with one of the best horn sections in town; in fact, check out the explosive yet expressive trumpet solo around the 2:00 minute mark. Much like Fela Kuti’s early compositions, “40 Watt” manages to briefly introduce each instrumental section as the groove builds up and becomes denser, more propulsive and forceful before ending with a dreamy fade out.
The band is finishing up a late night residency at Baby’s All Right, with the last two dates as follows:
9/17 w/ DJ Teeny Lieberson + Billy Martin’s Fang Percussion (tickets)
9/24 w/ DJ Will Butler + special guests (tickets)