They bring together members of Antibalas, the Phenomenal Handclap Band, and TV on the Radio; their music joins buoyant call-and-response harmonies, rippling highlife-inspired guitar leads, !!!’s muscular funk-punk, and the spirited pulses of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music. Their name is Superhuman Happiness, because they are many — and because, really, what other name could approximate this kind of ragged, rootsy joy?
Led by saxophonist Stuart Bogie — a core member of Antibalas, as well as a contributor in TVOTR, a close collaborator of Dave Sitek, and a soloist in Bill T. Jones’ Broadway musical Fela! — Superhuman Happiness brings together a powerhouse lineup of seasoned players: guitarists Luke O’Malley and Ryan Ferreira, bassist Nikhil Yerawadekar, drummer Miles Arntzen, keyboardist Jared Samuel, trumpeter Eric Biondo, and baritone sax heavyweight Colin Stetson. They recently recorded the score to David France’s Oscar-nominated How to Survive a Plague, a documentary chronicling the AIDS activist coalitions ACT UP and TAG; on March 5, they’ll release their debut album, Hands, on Brooklyn’s the Royal Potato Family label.
As a teaser for the album, the band is giving away its rendition of Caetano Veloso’s “Um Canto De Afoxé Para O Cloco De Ilê (Ilê Ayê),” an MPB classic that the Tropicalia legend originally recorded for his 1982 album Cores, Nomes. (You may have heard it on David Byrne’s landmark survey of Brazilian pop, Beleza Tropical). Included on 2011’s AIDS benefit Red Hot + Rio 2, and featuring Cults on vocals, Superhuman Happiness’ version is a sprightly, uptempo Afro-disco jam; this previously unreleased remix from Juan MacLean lends a gritty dose of ’90s acid house, turning it into a full-moon rave that unites Brooklyn and Bahia in sweaty grooves and soaring refrains.