To follow up best-selling and epochal albums is a difficult task for an artist. And to try it after more than 40 years is probably impossible. But this is what seasoned Jamaican reggae singer Max Romeo and British producer and mixing engineer Daniel Boyle aim at with Horror Zone, a 16 track showcase album described as the follow-up to Max Romeo’s ultra-classic album War ina Babylon from 1976.
Max Romeo has of course recorded several albums after War ina Babylon, but none with the same dark and ambient atmosphere that Lee Perry created for that set. And it’s that swirling and swampy sound that Daniel Boyle and Max Romeo have wanted to re-create on Horror Zone.
Daniel Boyle succeeded a similar mission impossible with Lee Perry’s acclaimed and Grammy nominated Back on the Controls. And I dare to say that Horror Zone is another stellar set with its heavy grooves and deep vibes.
Horror Zone is heavyweight and organic roots reggae with political and social commentaries. Max Romeo delivers relevant and insightful lyrics over raw and live-recorded rhythms played by a number of the musicians that were involved in recording War ina Babylon, including Vin Gordon on trombone, Robbie Lyn on keyboard and Glen DaCosta on saxophone. Lee Perry himself added percussion and backing vocals as well as effects for the dub versions.
To complete the concept Daniel Boyle even connected with designer Tony Wright to do the cover art. Tony Wright did the artwork on War ina Babylon along with several classic sleeves from the 70s, including Lee Perry’s Super Ape, Junior Murvin’s Police & Thieves and Ijahman Levi’s Haile I Hymn.
With Horror Zone Max Romeo and Daniel Boyle have managed to create a strong album that pays respect to the original War ina Babylon, but without being too nostalgic.
Dominican singer Oriel is productive. On July 2 he put out two EP’s. But that was however never the plan and the idea morphed after working with UK-based and Grammy-nominated producer Daniel Boyle.
Love SoulJah was slated for release and then Oriel teamed up with Daniel Boyle who remastered some of his previous releases, and they, together with a few new tracks, sum up Confidence 2.0.
The two EP’s are combined as one release on digital outlets, but they have a slightly different approach and sound. Love SoulJah is smoother and softer and deals with love and relationships, while Confidence 2.0 is deeper with a more social and political vibe.
This combined set leans much toward pop music and it’s often easily accessible and catchy. Most cuts are however powered by brilliant bass lines. Check the country and western inspired Down Where I Live, the contemporary R&B flavoured Love SoulJah or album opener Confidence with its bulldozer bass line.
A fresh and urban set from an artist with great potential.
For the past two and a half years or so legendary producer and overall mad man Lee “Scratch” Perry has worked together with producer Daniel Boyle in his Rolling Lion studio in the UK. The result is a sweaty and swirling set with a whopping 24 tracks. It’s the first part of a two stage project, where Daniel Boyle in the next phase aims to record a follow-up in Jamaica with a number seasoned singers and deejays.
Together they have worked with the aim of re-building the sound from Lee Perry’s mythical Black Ark studio. To create this very distinct sound they have utilized bits of vintage studio equipment – microphones, compressors and effects – originally used back in the days. And the analogue and organic sound is certainly close to the original Black Ark style. The bass is a little louder though.
And what is unique in this project is that the tracks have been jointly created by Lee Perry and Daniel Boyle. Lee Perry has for the first time in years been pushing the knobs and being active on the mixing desk and at the mixing stage.
Back on the Controls is deep roots music and features a number of well-renowned musicians – guitarist Hughie Izachaar, Hornsman Coyote, singer Christine Miller, bass player Dennis Bovell and drummer Style Scott.
On top of the ethereal and esoteric music created by the players of instruments floats Lee Perry’s half sung, half-spoken mumblings and grumblings. It’s sometimes hard to understand a word of what the man says, or rather preaches. But then again, even if I had heard the words, I probably would not have understood anything anyway. He’s not big on context or storytelling.
This is an overall pretty dark and dense album, but the backing vocals provide some well-needed brightness and lightness.
Lee Perry’s latest releases have been partly in the more electronic field, and he has worked together with UK’s The Orb and Dubblestandart out of Germany. This set, however, brings back his raw signature style. Lee Perry has relocated from the factory to the rain forest.