French singjay Bazil released his debut album 2011 and put out his latest set East to the West earlier this year. This is an intense and eclectic affair showcasing musical influences from Europe, the U.S. and, of course, the Caribbean.
Bazil started recording at the age of 15 and is nowadays a seasoned performer and recording artist not shy to break musical boundaries.
East to the West is colorful and urban and stands firm in the reggae tradition, but it also incorporates hip-hop, tropical and electronica. Check for example the infectious Vision, the bouncy Love the Night, the fierce General or the summery Escape with a strong cross-over appeal.
In November last year French band Danakil teamed up with Ondubground to re-record their album La Rue Raisonne. And the result is a powerful and modern album with a broad variety of artists lending their talents to the project.
This is forward-thinking bass music influenced by reggae, trap, hip-hop, dub, dubstep and electronica. Extraordinary cuts include Jamalski’s fast-chatting Tell Dem, the melancholic Dub of the Nation and the pulsating J’attends la nuit.
This album explores new musical horizons and might not please the usual Danakil crowd. This one is aimed at sound systems worldwide.
Highly popular French band Dub Inc. is the epitome of an independent band. They produce their own albums and they record their own material at their own studio.
On their recently released sixth studio album So What they continue in the same vein as before. Two vocalists trading places in front of the microphone singing socio-political lyrics in at least three different languages over explosive beats and rhythms.
So What is jam-packed with energy and it is no wonder why Dub Inc. is described as a superb live act. Their fusion of rock and roots reggae sounds custom-made for major festivals and larger arenas.
On So What their take on reggae is fused with Latin, the title track, Middle Eastern influences, Maché bécif, dancehall, Fêlés, and hip-hop, the Naâman combination Don’t Be A Victim.
Best of the bunch is however the pounding No Matter Where You Come From with its bulldozing bass line and blazing horn blasts.
Their career is now spanning almost two decades and with So What they show no signs of slowing down.
La Rue Raisonne is French nine-piece outfit Danakil’s fifth studio album since they started back in 2001. The first single off the album is 32 mars and it’s a groovy effort, while the second single Back Again is harder and darker with grim horn parts.
The album was recorded with analogue techniques and has a rough and organic feel to it with hard-hitting drums and bass lines, at times complemented by the use of dub wizardry.
It’s an album with tracks mostly sung in their native-tongue. But melodies and moods transcends langues and borders. And it’s a frustrated and angry album with a dense sonic landscape. You can almost touch the frustration on a track like J’attends le jour [I Await the Day].
Want to hear U.S. pop singer Terence Trent D’Arby sing reggae and soul? Well, then you could head over to your nearest retailer or digital outlet and check Jacko with Bambool’s self-titled debut album, which was released in November last year.
Singer Jacko has a voice with a striking resemblance to Terence Trent D’Arby. They share a slightly raspy, delicate and nasal tone with a passion for the emotional. You could also hear influences from Michael Jackson in Jacko’s phrasing.
The album is in the intersection between reggae, funk and soul and comes complete with three dub versions, of which the dreamy Dub Food is pick of the bunch.
The set has dramatic strings (City so Shitty and African Beat) and Latin percussion (What They Do) on the one hand and deep bass lines (Sea is Empty) and gospel (Friendship) on the other. Very catchy and refreshingly different from many other releases.
Benin-born singer Joe Pilgrim spent his childhood in France and started to sing in church at a tender age. At the age of 17 he discovered reggae and has since worked with loads of artists and producers. And last year he was actually involved in no less than three full-length albums – The Good, The Bad & The Addict by Pilah & Joe Pilgrim, Maÿd Hubb & Joe Pilgrim’s Mellowmoon and Joe Pilgrim & The Ligerians’Intuitions.
Best of the bunch is by far Intuitions and it sounds like nothing Joe Pilgrim has recorded previously. He has mostly voiced heavy and hard dub cuts. Intuitions is something completely else.
The album is divided in four chapters – Illusions and Crises, The Sparkling Light, Intuitions and Incarnations – and is a throwback to 70s Jamaica, especially the sounds of Israel Vibration, but also Culture and Burning Spear. We’re talking dread roots with sweet harmonies and spiritual and humanistic messages overcoming hardships of life and global social justice along with shortcomings contemporary society.
The musicianship on Intuitions is sublime – just listen to the marvelous break and the superb horns in Blind Civilization – and Joe Pilgrim has one of those up-in-the-hills singing styles. This album is yet another proof of the thriving and fantastic French reggae scene.
Heavyweight Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist Dubmatix is back with a new album, a twelve track set highlighting the thriving French reggae scene.
It all started about two years ago when Dubmatix was on tour in France. He met several producers and artists and when back in Canada he sent each singer two or three different riddims and let them pick the one they liked. They sent back the vocal cut and in the end Dubmatix created an entirely new riddim for each vocal part in order to showcase their talent and flow.
The French Sessions features ten up-and-coming singers and deejays from across France. The songs are sung in both English and French and styles range from rootsy reggae to hip-hop-tinged reggae and steppers.
Highlights include pulsating album opener Dangerous with Guive and Taiwan MC sharing the microphone, the ethereal Fais Tourner featuring Volodia, the bouncy Mercedes with Tribuman and the anthemic Are You Ready? Reggae Sun Ska with Volodia and LMK sharing vocal duties.
According to Dubmatix he has enough material for a second part of this exciting project and I’m definitely up for more.
French singer Christophe Rigaud dropped his debut EP See the River in late 2012 and now he and his band The High Reeds have put out a first full-length set.
But in-between these two musical efforts Christophe Rigaud visited Jamaica to learn about the roots of reggae. For several days he travelled the island with a guitar in his hand, improvising performances and visiting artists and studios.
Upon his return to France he teamed with his three fellow musicians to record Sounds of Life, a 14 track set dedicated to the celebration of life. It’s a seductive, organic and meditative reggae album with influences ranging from soul to jazz and blues.
And even though Christophe Rigaud touches difficult subjects like armed conflicts, politics and religion it all sounds so gentle, partly thanks to smooth rhythms, partly because of his delicate singing.
Sounds of Life isn’t the deep roots or blazing digital reggae that usually comes from France. This is something different. Slicker and more down to earth.
One year after Akom Records’Heartwarming riddim comes yet another scorcher from this French label and its drum and bass duo David and Faby from Dub Akom, one of Europe’s most acclaimed backing bands
Way Back riddim is fresh and modern rub a dub and the 13 track compilation brings together various artists of the current Jamaican scene, such as Konshens, Lutan Fyah, Jah Mason, Lukie D, Turbulence, Lorenzo, veteran singer Johnny Osbourne, as well as artists like Pressure from the Virgin Islands, Million Stylez representing Sweden, Jah Marnyah from the UK and Jahnett Tafari from South Africa. It also includes and up and coming Jamaican artists Jah Torius and Di Ras.
The Way Back riddim is now available on digital platforms worldwide. A 10″ vinyl release will follow later this year with two unreleased cuts.
Fans of bands such as Soja and Groundation from the U.S. and Dub Inc from France should head over to the nearest record store or digital retailer. The reason is Danakil and their latest album Entre les lignes (between the lines in English).
This nine piece outfit has for the past 14 years or so toured extensively and released three studio albums, two live sets and one dub effort mixed by Manjul.
They have previously worked together with Jah Mason, Mighty Diamonds and General Levy. On Entre les lignes – their fourth studio set – they have invited roots warriors Twinkle Brothers as well as Natty Jean and Harrison Stafford and Marcus Urani from the previously mentioned Groundation.
Danakil – the name taken from a Ethiopian desert – offer a potent blend of roots reggae, rock and pop flavoured with some African influences, with the majority of the songs sung in French.
Entre le lignes has particularly tasty horn parts, especially the lovely saxophone solo on Les Signes and the melancholic brass on Ne touche pas and L’or noir.
Danakil has presented a set with mostly classic and smoky reggae grooves, sometimes with a dash of rock and with a strong African touch.