Review: Afrocop — ‘Moondust’

For most of the 2010s, Afrocop have existed as one of Seattle’s most reliable antidotes to sonic mundanity. The trio thrive in improvisational contexts, relying on telepathic interplay and ingenuity honed over years of grinding it out on the city’s live circuit, where they’ve built a strong following among heads who like outward-bound musical journeys with soulful afterburners.

Moondust, their first proper studio album, gently blooms into life with “Mermaids,” buoyed by a sparkling fantasia that’s as awe-inducing as your most far-out New Age composer. Soon the rhythm—handled by bassist Carlos Tulloss and drummer Andy Sells—saunters in with a slack funkiness, festooned by keyboardist Noel Brass Jr.’s glittering synth arpeggios. The piece swells as it progresses, evolving into the low-slung majesty of Sun Ra’s “Twin Stars Of Thence.” From this point on, you realize you’re in the deft hands of masterly mood-setters.

While often exquisitely poised, Afrocop can also get wild. For instance, “Seven Levels” flaunts bustling, complex rhythms reminiscent of Tortoise at their friskiest or Medeski Martin & Wood in a caffeinated mood. “Breathing Fire” ascends to the upper strata of Return To Forever and Venusian Summer-era Lenny White’s flamboyant sci-fi-fusion realms, before ending with a long coda of strange ambient contemplation. All three musicians flex their flashiest moves here.

The album’s oddest odyssey is “World Of Wonders.” It vaguely recalls Ramsey Lewis’ “Dreams” off his 1973 LP Funky Serenity, as well as Stevie Wonder’s staccato, strutting “Superstition.” If we ever get a nightlife scene back, I would spin this track in a DJ set in order to really set the night on fire. The title track closes Moondust with a grandiose flourish; it’s a real show-stopper of spaced-out funk, with a bass line and synth motif that swoop up galaxies of celestial dust.

Recorded and mixed by David Delmar, this record has been gestating for years, so it’s satisfying to have Moondust finally out and beautifying the world.

(Pickup your copy of Moondust at Bandcamp HERE.) 

Dave Segal

Dave Segal has written about music, film, books, and comedy for The Stranger since 2002. Before that, he served as a freelance critic and managing editor for Alternative Press (1990-2002) and copy editor and critic for Creem magazine (1985-1987). From 1996-2002, Segal hosted the Cosmic Slop and Secret Ions radio shows on WCSB in Cleveland, Ohio. He currently freelances for The Wire and Pitchfork. In his spare time pre-pandemic, Segal DJed weird music at various Seattle venues under the name Veins. Follow @editaurus on Twitter.

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