Austrian label and its main producer Syrix has dropped an earth-shaking, yet melodic, dub album filled with versions of hits from some of the artists that have recorded for the label.
On Dub Station Syrix has turned up the bass and let all his creativity flow throughout the label. The version of Luciano’s Hard Road is a booming one with loads of vocals from the original cut. Another killer track is the pulsating version of Anthony B’s Freedom Fighter with its bright horns and Anthony B’s authoritative voice echoing back and forth in the mix.
Dubheads should not sleep on this one.
On Jahcoustix’ seventh album he has once again teamed up with Austria’s Irievibrations, just like he did on Frequency and its more naked counterpart Acoustic Frequency. And the result is yet another marvellous album.
Seriously Positive is a telling title. This album is uplifting, comforting and charming and it’s easy to dream away when dwelling into the sympathetic arrangements and Jahcoustix’ fervid yet laid-back, sometimes almost lazy, vocal style, which is complemented on two tracks by Uwe Banton and Akae Beka aka Vaughn Benjamin, formerly Midnite’s frontman and lead singer.
This is a throw-back to vintage reggae and the organic sound owes quite a lot to rocksteady, especially the driving organ and the tight and beautiful harmonizing on several tracks, as exemplified on a cut like the insanely catchy Old Tongue.
Other highlights include the heartfelt When We Part, the breezy Soul Steady with its lingering piano, horns and guitar and the pulsating Too Brutal, which includes some kind of rapping in the verses.
According to the press release Jahcoustix voiced the entire set in just one day. That’s an achievement. But with masterful musicianship and top-notch arrangements it’s no wonder why he might have been on a creative high.
With producers from about eight countries Niyorah’s fourth album Rising Sun would be destined to being a much varied and erratic set. But it’s actually not. And somehow it all balances very well.
The album collects 13 tracks with production credits from acclaimed producers like France’s Bost & Bim, Austria’s Irievibrations, Zion I Kings from the U.S and DJ Frass and George “Dusty” Miller from Jamaica. And it presents some of Niyorah’s best material to date.
Apart from Midnite and Pressure he’s probably one of the most prominent artists from the Virgin Islands. He has for many years dropped conscious and spiritual music telling stories from the streets and from the heart.
Rising Sun is no exception. Rain Forrest is a beautiful environmental prayer, Media Portray is an unforgiving attack on popular culture, War is Not the Answer is a plea for equality on Zion I Kings’ gorgeous Song Bird riddim and Medicinal Ganja is an angelic marijuana anthem.
But the best cut is the infectious and pulsating Let Love Flow, a track that might be a highlight of Niyorah’s career. He is a talented performer and has a slick way of mixing sweet singing with fierce deejaying. And it might just be his captivating flow that keeps the set together.
Singing with a band or singing a cappella or just backed by a guitar might be something like holding a presentation with or without a PowerPoint. It can be a demanding setup where you are naked, vulnerable and exposed.
The latest addition to the increasing number of acoustic or unplugged reggae albums is Jahcoustix’ Acoustic Frequency, an uncut reworking of his excellent and very rootsy Frequency album, which was originally released last year.
This brand new acoustic version comes with the same amount of cuts, but three of these are dub versions and included are also a few exclusives. So, it’s not a full album that has been recut. No worries though.
Acoustic Frequency is just as great as its uplifting predecessor. It offers a new and different perspective to his music. It’s intimate, personal and raw with an organic feel throughout the set.
According to an interview with Jahcoustix it only took five days to record the album and he and his producers – Irievibrations – didn’t put too much thought into the production. They just let the vibes flow. And simplicity is often a tasty recipe for success. Acoustic Frequency is a telling example of that.
Italian singer Raphael has been on the scene for more than twelve years, but most people away from the Italian reggae scene has probably not heard much about him.
As part of Eazy Skankers he has put out two albums – To the Foundation in 2008 and Changes in 2011. And last year he dropped his debut solo set, a EP produced by Bizzarri Records and titled My Name is Raphael.
Apparently he has done something right because now he’s signed to IrieVibrations Records and his debut solo album Mind vs Heart has just reached the streets.
This 15 track set – 18 if you include three bonus cuts – is a catchy effort and very similar to IrieVibrations’ previous productions. It has a taste of R&B, soul, hip-hop and, nyabinghi and one drop reggae.
His singing style owes quite a lot to Bob Marley. He also tries to rap in the appropriately titled In Every Style. You have to give him credit for trying, but Raphael should stick to singing or maybe singjaying, as he also does on the same track. It works very well and he rides the bouncy riddim effortlessly.
Mind vs Heart is a rich, organic and mature solo debut with some crossover potential. Be sure to check it if you like well-produced European one drop.
German reggae singer Jahcoustix spent his childhood in several different countries in many parts of the world – Mexico, Liberia, the U.S., Kenya, Germany and Egypt. And just like when he was growing up his previous albums have wandered in several different directions, while his latest effort Frequency is a cohesive set following Bob Marley’s roots reggae recipe.
Frequency is Jahcoustix sixth studio album and recorded with a different approach since it’s his first without his band. Instead he worked with Austrian label and producers Irievibrations Records along with a few other producers.
The idea was to get a more diverse sound, but I’d say it’s the opposite. Frequency is straight forward roots reggae with clean grooves, deep bass lines, pumping organ, kicking drums, sweet vocal harmonizing, conscious lyrics, breezy horns and memorable hooks and melodies.
Over the 17 tracks, of which one is a dub version of the excellent Apple Gabriel combination Controller and two are bonus cuts, he doesn’t stray into straight pop, balladeering, dancehall, dance music or hip-hop. Frequency is uplifting and uncompromising roots reggae. Just like it should be.
Available now on CD and digital platforms.
Anthony B was part of the rasta renaissance in the mid 90’s with singers and deejays such as Luciano, Sizzla, Turbulence, Capleton and Buju Banton. His first hit song was the Richard “Bello” Bell produced Fire pon Rome, a tuned banned from the radio waves due to its controversial lyrics. It was also included on his acclaimed debut album Real Revolutionary put out in 1996.
Over these 16 years he has put out some 17 albums and also probably voiced hundreds of cuts for different producers and one riddim compilations. His latest albums have been inconsistent, but single wise he has remained strong, and one of his best releases in recent time is the skanking hip-hop inspired dancehall scorcher Dem Can’t Stop We From Talk.
Freedom Fighter is his latest album. It’s produced by Austria’s Irievibrations, who has previously put out worthwhile albums from Luciano, Sojah and Perfect.
The solid backing on Freedom Fighter is in the same vein as Irievibrations’ previous work – melodic, slick and powerful. Anthony B is a gifted and sharp lyricist. With his authoritative voice and militant chanting style he rails against the injustices in society.
In Born to be Free – one the album’s highlights – he chants “what is the meaning of prison reform, when every criminal turn up in a uniform, man shouldn’t be judged by the place you’re born, but by the work and the duty where you perform” and it sounds like he means it.
Anthony B should however stay away from singing. This style is a taste which I have yet to acquire.
Ok, so my over exposure light started flashing again when I noticed that Luciano was going to put out his third full length album in a year.
However, just like Write My Name – his second album in 2010 – my expectations are exceeded. Rub a Dub Market is yet another strong effort from this veteran roots singer.
Vienna-based IrieVibrations has handled the production duties. And their collaboration with Luciano have proven fruitful before with tunes such as Always Around on the Caribbean riddim and the up tempo ska outing Feeling for Love on the Work Off riddim. Both included on this new set.
Luciano moves effortless between lovers rock lyrics and more cultural and conscious ditto. He is on a crusade against the direction reggae music is heading.
On the title track on his previous album he sung “All veterans and all apprentice, open up your ears and listen to this, we come fi bun up corruption and trample slackness and put the roots music number one pon the list.”
On the title track for Rub a Dub Market the theme is familiar. He sings “…them making music to gain some fame, but is all in vain…roots and culture wear the crown.” It’s an appeal to the reggae business and targets the fast moving digital production.
The riddims are well crafted and played with live instruments. Luciano’s choruses are just as grandiose and beautiful as ever. Just listen to Only You Jah or Voice of a Trumpet.
I can’t help to be impressed by Luciano. Three huge sets in a year. It’s hard to beat that.