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.
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.
The German reggae scene has been thriving for years, owing much the success of global reggae/pop phenomenon Gentleman, but also thanks to artists such as Jahcoustix, Patrice and Sebastian Sturm. The two former dropped albums in June and September respectively and now it’s time for Sebastian Sturm and his band Exile Airline to unleash the Jamaican produced set A Grand Day Out.
This 13 track set was recorded in Germany together with Stephen Stewart and Sam Clayton Jr and then mixed in Kingston by the same duo. The result shows a more reggae-oriented Sturm. The rock influences on Get Up & Going from 2011 are traded for a more pop-concerned approach with traces of both ska and soul. His love for Bob Marley-styled tonality and phrasing is however intact.
This is not a roots reggae album. Not by a far. It’s actually rather lightweight, but the melodies are infectiously catchy and I find myself both nodding my head and stomping my feet, especially to the rocking and well-arranged Sand in Their Machinery.
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.
The European reggae scene has been thriving for years and the development is mainly led by France, Germany and the UK, countries with several talented performers and producers. Both France and the UK have a large population of Caribbean descent. Germany, however, has managed to be a vital part of the European reggae scene without people coming from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago or some of the other islands where people live and breathe reggae and dancehall.
Bielefeld is a small German city known for its industries and its local university, but also for roots rasta artist Uwe Banton. Well, Bielefeld is maybe not synonymous with Uwe Banton yet, but things might change thanks to his third solo album Mental War, a 13 track set mostly produced by the singer himself and with a little help from musicians such as Moritz von Korff, who has played a important role in the development of the contemporary European reggae scene.
Mental War offers the usual rootsy European sound with influences from hip-hop, soul and ska and with lyrics dealing with faith, unity, romance and the importance of making an effort in life working and contributing to society. The latter topic is of great importance at the moment due to the debt crisis in the U.S. and parts of Europe.
Uwe Banton has also thrown in the more or less mandatory marijuana anthem. The Roots of It (Cannabis Song) is a bright and sing-a-long friendly piece where he argues why ganja should be legal.
The album collects four combinations – two with Jamaican veterans Mikey General and Luciano and two with fellow Germans Jahcoustix and Cornadoor. The duet with Jahcoustix is recorded over Dub Inc’s mighty No Doubt riddim released last year and is the strongest moment on an otherwise solid set.