If might be easy to dismiss Belgian musician and multi-instrumentalist Bregt De Boever, his band Pura Vida and their producer Poddington Krank as Lee Perry copycats. Well, they might be, but that doesn’t matter when it’s sounding as great as it always does.
On Pura Vida’s latest album – Red Hot – the atmosphere is ghastly similar to when Lee Perry was recording some of his best material at his legendary Black Ark studio in the mid to late 70s. The sound is swirling, ethereal and sticky. It’s like the album was recorded in a rain forest. Impressive to say the least.
As usual Pura Vida uses live instrumentation with strong horns, nice melodica and a groovy accordion. The set comes with 13 tracks, of which two are live recordings and three are churning dub versions.
Bregt De Boever’s voice is complemented with beautiful and powerful back-up vocals, vocals that adds quite a lot to the songs, especially the melancholic Life is a Gift, the countryfied Broken Hearted and thumping album-opener Jah Make Yah.
Pura Vida has previously proved their skills and showing their talents working with reggae luminaries such as Prince Alla and The Congos. Now they’re on their own showcasing a set that is just as strong as their previous efforts. They’re still waiting for a big break. Hopefully Red Hot helps them to gain a wider audience. Because they definitely deserve it.
Belgian reggae band Pura Vida aka The Lost Ark Band – led by multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Bregt De Boever – have previously worked with well-known heavy as lead roots singers and groups such as The Congos, Prince Alla, Sylford Walker and Congo Ashanti Roy.
Now, they’ve teamed up with a completely different artist – the obscure pub rock reggae singer and musician G.T. Moore, who has played with giants such as Van Morrison, Dr. John and Johnny Nash.
If you have ever searched the vinyl bins at a record store you might have stumbled upon Move It On Up or Reggae Blue released by G.T. Moore and The Reggae Guitars in the mid 70’s. I know I have, and I never bothered to give them a listen.
But maybe I should have. Because G.T. Moore’s new reggae project with Pura Vida is a punch in the face. In a good way. G.T. Moore has a tone reminiscent of a folk singer. He has no rush and his voice is scared, honest and rugged.
Seek the Kingdom First is musically in the same vein as previous Pura Vida material, i.e. highly influenced by Lee Perry’s heydays at his legendary Black Ark studio. It’s ethereal and swirling and you can almost feel the water drops slowly finding its way down the veins of the leaf in the humid jungle.
The album collects six vocal cuts and two dub versions. The majority of the tracks run over five minutes and they are in no hurry to finish. The music is slow, mellow and beautiful.
This album is currently only available on digital platforms, but previous Pura Vida material have been pressed on vinyl too, so this might change if there’s a demand.
In Belgium there is a studio named The Lost Ark. It’s a nod to Lee Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica, where he crafted his unique sound. Calling the studio Lost Ark certainly sounds too good to be true, but when listening to some of the music recorded there it’s fascinating how it resemblances Lee Perry’s mid to late 70’s output.
The latest set to come out of the Lost Ark is Congo Ashanti Roy’s and Belgian band Pura Vida’s Hard Road. Congo Ashanti Roy is one third of the original Congo’s who recorded their world-renowned debut album Heart of the Congos at the Black Ark with Lee Perry, and also last year recorded the album We Nah Give Up together with Pura Vida at the Lost Ark.
Hard Road is the brainchild of Pura Vida’s lead singer Bregt “Braithe” De Boever and Congo Ashanti Roy and collects eleven tracks, of which two are dub versions, recorded in Belgium and Jamaica. The production and mixing were handled by Poddington Krank.
The album is swirling, richly textured and atmospheric and sounds like it was recorded in a dense greenhouse full of ganja. The musicians utilizes a number of unexpected instruments, such as harmonica on the country-tinged Shadows of the Evening, strings on Hard Road and what sounds like a pan pipe on album opener Only Jah, a nyahbinghi track similar to Ras Michael’s album Love Thy Neighbour.
Even though Lee Perry has not been involved in this project his fingerprints are all over the place, and Hard Road is a fascinating musical journey with call-and-response singing, trancelike grooves, sublime horn arrangements and adventurous song structures.
Hard Road is available on digital platforms worldwide and a limited edition vinyl copy can by ordered via Lost Ark Music.