Tag Archives: We nah Give Up

Congo Ashanti Roy’s swirling new album

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.

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Sounds like The Congos are back at the Ark

Jamaican vocal harmony group The Congos are responsible for one of the best reggae albums ever made – Heart of The Congos. It surfaced in 1977 and showed the extraordinary talents of producer and engineer Lee Perry.

A full-blown masterpiece like Heart of The Congos is naturally hard to follow-up. Maybe one or two thought The Congos would manage to do it in 2010, when the album Back in the Black Ark was put out. This was a decent set, but no way near their debut, and felt more like a marketing gimmick.

But last year The Congos quietly dropped We nah Give Up – a 17 track double disc recorded and produced together with Belgian reggae rockers Pura Vida. This album is by far the best album by The Congos since their magnum opus back in the 70’s.

We nah Give Up is the brainchild of Pura Vida’s lead singer Bregt “Braithe” De Boever, and the blueprint of the set was laid in Jamaica.

The album boasts nine excellent cuts from the Congos with lead vocals shared between Cedric Myton’s falsetto, Congo Ashanti Roy’s tenor and Watty Burnett’s baritone as well as eight equally first-rate vocals and dubstrumentals from Pura Vida.

The atmospheric, steamy and hypnotizing Black Ark sound texture is present throughout the album. The vocals soar overhead the swirling instrumentation with sublime melodies and unexpected arrangements.

It’s a shame this album was so poorly marketed. Had I heard it last year it would have been put on my list of best albums of 2011. Anything else would have been an outrage.

We nah Give Up is available as a limited edition double LP from Lost Ark Music and as digital download.

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