Tony Allen returns with Film of Life

Tony ‘the human metronome’ Allen is back with a brand new album “Film of Life” and a live show at London’s Village Underground.’s 25ThC investigates…

Tony Allen was instrumental in the creation of Afrobeat together with Fela Kuti. His rhythmic Yoruba patterns perfectly complementing Kuti’s instrumental funk and Pan-African Slogans. Their collaboration would last 15 years before Allen broke off into new musical territory covering diverse genres from dub to pop. Over the years he has worked with artists such as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sebastian Telier and Joe Lovano.

The most fruitful partnership to emerge was with Damon Albarn. They met in London in 2003 and this led to the pair collaborating on the track ‘Every Season’ for Allen’s album “Homecooking”. Since then they have worked together in The Good, The Bad and The Queen, Africa Express and Rocket Juice and the Moon (alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea). Albarn describes Allen to be “the greatest drummer in the world”.

“Film of life” is Allen’s tenth album and features a cast of world class musicians including Albarn who plays Melodica on “Tiger Skip” and co-wrote and performed “Go Back”. The album brings together bebop, afrobeat jazz and psychedelic pop. Allen entrusted the production to a trio of young French musicians known as The Jazzbastard having heard their work with Malian rapper Oxmo Puccino and Canadian-Haitian singer Melissa Laveaux. The result is a stunning long-lasting album with a rich, varied, Technicolor soundscape. On the opener “Moving On” Allen recalls each of his previous albums depicting his spirit of endurance and powers of reinvention. Elsewhere on “The Boat Journey” and “Go Back”, Allen explores themes of exile and displacement whilst “Ire Omo”, “Koko Dance” and “Insider” pay homage to Africa and its rich cultural and spiritual heritage.

The album is a great addition to an already amazing career and it is impressive that even after all these years Allen is still innovating and not simply sitting back on his laurels.

tony allen

Film of life is out on 20th October 2014 via JazzVillage. You can catchTony Allen live at Soundcrash in London on 20th November 2014 when he will be supported by Aziz Sahmaoui and The University of Gnawa.



Words by 25ThC