Tag Archives: Warn the Nation

Sound ‘n’ Pressure is a slice of UK underground reggae history

SOUNDNPRESSURE PackshotFans and followers of the late 80’s and early 90’s roots revival in the UK listen up. Sound ‘n’ Pressure is a recently put out 13 track compilation full of Jah Shaka inspired heavy and relentless reggae riddims, complete with lots of dub mixing wizardry.

The compilation collects all releases – only four – on UK label Sound ‘n’ Pressure as well as a fifth previously unreleased single, played by Aba Shanti as dubplate, plus an unnecessary unreleased track created for a short film.

The tracks are a mix of vocal cuts and their dub versions and were recorded in the early to mid 90’s. The label’s debut 12” Warn the Nation was an instant underground hit with its slow, pulsating and meditative sound. The three following 12” were also well-received and bear the same trademarks as the initial release – monotonous, introvert, dark and heavy UK reggae with echo, delay and other sound effects.

Remastered from the original master tapes, the audio quality of these tasty, but sometimes a bit weary and too repetitive, slices of UK reggae history certainly stands out.

The album comes with sleeve notes filling in the background to the label and is available on CD, vinyl and as a digital download.

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Mista Savona puts Australia on the reggae map

Jake ”Mista” Savona is the leading reggae producer from Australia, and the first to consistently travel to Jamaica to record some of the country’s most acclaimed singers and deejays. Reggaemani got an early morning chat with this well-educated and humble producer.

Australia is not necessarily known for its burgeoning reggae and dancehall scene. Rather pop music and artists and groups such as Kylie Minogue and INXS.

Reggae is according to Jake Savona regarded as a mostly underground style in Australia and is not in the mainstream consciousness yet.

Jornick, Jake Savona and Vida-Sunshyne.

“The scene is fairly small here”, explains Jake Savona over the phone, walking through a park in Sydney in the middle of the day, while I have just woke up and am preparing for breakfast.

Started early
Jake is a classically trained musician and has been playing keyboards such as the piano and Hammond organ from the age of six.

“Playing keyboards gives you different skills. It gives you melody, harmony and composition techniques,” he says.

He learned to play reggae by himself through trial and error, listening to records and also through friends. And he says that the music expertise in Australia is very good.

“I have many inspirations. Augustus Pablo, King Tubby and Lee Perry. That mid 70’s sound. But also the late 90’s and early 2000’s sound, like the Diwali and Coolie riddims. Not much of the music from Jamaica today. It has too much auto-tune and is too generic,” he says and adds:

“I also love electronic music, world music, and vintage Bollywood music.”

Begun with dub
Jake first became interested in dancehall and modern reggae when living in Brixton for a month in 2000. And he clearly remembers when he heard dub for the first time.

“First time I heard real dub was at someone’s house in deep downtown London. Horace Andy was there in person singing, and there were speakers on all the walls,” he laughs, and continues:

“I went back to Australia and started making hip-hop beats with reggae influences.”

Travelled to Jamaica
In 2004 Jake visited Jamaica for the first time, and his first recording there was with Anthony B. Since then, he has been back two times – in 2008 and last year.

While in Jamaica in 2008 he recorded some of the vocals for the wicked Fire Dragon riddim, a clever interpretation of the classic Drum Song riddim.

“I’m a vinyl collector and for that riddim was inspired by Korean music and kung fu soundtracks. The bass line in Drum Song was itself inspired by old 50’s Latin American stuff. My version is in a totally different style. It is Arabic and Middle Eastern sounding,” he says.

The riddim was voiced by chanters such as Burro Banton and Sizzla.

“Sizzla loved the riddim. He jumped around and kept hitting the CD player when I played it in his yard,” he says, and continues:

“He is an amazing guy. Moody and inspired. Reminds me sometimes of Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. A brilliant character with amazing vocal ability.”

Jake also reveals that he has recorded a full length album with Sizzla, hopefully due later this year. It is a reggae album with some hip-hop, dancehall and dubstep influences.

Important messages
Mista Savona’s latest album is the compilation Warn the Nation. It has been available in Australia for a year, and was recently released in Europe and the U.S through Soulbeats Records in France.

The music was mainly recorded in Australia, while most of the vocals were laid in Jamaica.

The album’s core messages are concerned about the state of the world today and the environment. This is obvious in tunes such as Clean Air Clean Country by Burro Banton and Why Does the World Cry by Sizzla.

“Why do the same things happen again,” asks Jake rhetorically, and continues:

“I want to put out music with a message. Not necessarily about girls, money or consumerism. Plenty of people are already doing that.”

Warn the Nation also features the late Alton Ellis on Chant Rasta Sound. Jake remembers the recording which took place in London.

“It was amazing. Alton heard it [the riddim] and loved it. He went through a news paper to get the words going. I have also done a yet to be released combination with Sizzla on that tune.”

Jake says that he is already planning his next trip to Jamaica, and once the Sizzla album has dropped internationally he will go back and voice another set from the top Jamaican singers and deejays.

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Heavyweight sounds from Down Under

Australian and Melbourne-resident Mista Savona rose to worldwide prominence with the Fire Dragon riddim, an inspired and clever relick of the Drum Song riddim, originally recorded at Studio One. This percussion driven Middle Eastern flavored masterpiece was in 2009 voiced by huge artists such as Sizzla and Burro Banton.

Their cuts are, along with 14 others, represented on the Mista Savona produced compilation titled Warn the Nation, released last year in Australia, and now in Europe and the U.S.

This is a multi-riddim album, and the only riddim that is represented with more than two cuts are Fire Dragon. Apart from the aforementioned versions, there is an semi-instrumental Bongo Herman lead cut and Sizzla also does it acoustic style, on a lick where he is in fine form, jumping from total despair to joyfulness. It’s such a blessing to hear Sizzla when he’s on top of the game.

Warn the Nation is a conscious, raw and dense reggae album that deals with environmental issues, injustice and inequality.

It is heavily influenced by hip-hop, dancehall and dubstep as well as Indian and Middle Eastern music. Just listen to the pounding Stumble & Fall (Enemies Scatter Mix) featuring Junie Platinum or the straight one drop Chant Rasta Sound, one of the last cuts from the late Alton Ellis.

Mista Savona has managed to produce a compilation that is both uniform and diverse. It is remarkable that this gem has been hidden Down Under for so long.

Warn the Nation hits the streets on June 10.

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