by: Jarret Lovell
Thievery Corporation - “Temple of I & I” - (ESL Records) [Digital New Release]
Thievery Corporation are a modern-day success story. As the website Exclaim! notes, “They've had no commercial radio hits, no high-end, big-budget videos, no major-label backing.” And yet, they’ve managed to build a rather sizeable following both in the U.S. where they are based (Washington, D.C.) and around the world. This is due no doubt to their international sound which at times blends afro-beat, bossa nova, and Indian sitar with a reggae dub rhythm. In fact, aside from their last full length “Saudade”, the one consistent sound thread that unites all of their material is the underlying dub sound. In 2015, TC announced on their website that the new album was going to be a straight-up return to their reggae/dub roots. They even located to Port Antonio, Jamaica to write/record the new record. Nearly a year and a half later, they present “Temple of I & I.” As the Jamaican patois title suggests, it is indeed a return to their reggae/dub roots, and quite a nice return. From the opening track “Thief Rockers” there’s no doubt that “Temple” is a return to their early sound. Patois vocals open the album, followed by a huge dub bassline. “Letter to the Editor” features Raquel Jones on vocals delivering in ragga toast style a wicked tune, with a great bassline serving as rhythm. “Ghetto Matrix” one again finds MC Mr. Lif on vocals, only this time the track is less of a rap/hip hop number than a mellow dub with Lif more casually delivering vocals. It’s a style that suits the mood of the album well. “Temple of I & I” is simply stunning. A simple dub with some great electronic effects that make this a standout track. “Time + Space” is one of TC’s haunting female vocal tracks sung both in French and English. The track opens with a trippy electronic beat. Simply put, this is a stunning release from TC. Fans of their more world/eclectic sound may long for the days of “Mirror Conspiracy” or “Radio Retaliation.” But for those who dig their reggae/dub tunes, this is paradise, with something for I and I. Highly recommended.
Gabriel Garzon-Montano - “Jardin” - (Stones Throw)
Oh is this sweet! Slow, trippy soul from the great Stones Throw label. This Brooklyn-based singer sings sweet, melodic songs with handclap rhythm and dark, haunting electronic. And his voice. His voice! “Sour Mango” begins with the repetitive sounds of handclaps. When his voice comes in so too does this amazing atmospheric keyboard. “Fruitflies” has a lighter, poppy bassline to open the song. This album is so hard to describe, as it’s part trip-hop, part slow electronic soul. It is beautiful and interesting and DEFINITELY soulful. And it’s on Stones Throw, so you know it’s good. Perfect for RPM, Funk/Soul, Hip Hop. It’s great! Check it out.
Dubbest - "Light Flashes" - (Dubbest)
Boston-based reggae dub. This 2015 release is new to KUCI. Nice, American reggae/dub. Alborosie - "Freedom & Fyah" (Greensleeves): If there is any doubt that globalization has completely taken hold, we need to look no further than to the international popularity of reggae music and to Italian reggae artist Alborosie more specifically. With the release of his single "Kingston Sound" and his subsequent album "Soul Pirate," Alborosie quickly established himself as a major figure in the contemporary reggae music scene. His voice is deep and gruff, his lyrics are simultaneously playful and socially conscious, and his music is dub heavy. Several albums later, Alborosie is strong as ever. "Freedom & Fyah" continues his bass-heavy sound, as well as his (sometimes annoying) fascination with a special herb. Still, the song "Fly420" emerges as an early heavy single despite being an homage to, well, you know. "Strolling" features vocalist Protoje and a great play on U-Roy's "wake the town" sample. "Poser" is a slow, heavy track with Alborosie denouncing musical composers with no composure. There's really no bad track here.
Sticky Joe - "Good Day" - (self-release)
From Birmingham, England, Sticky Joe is a producer and reggae deejay. The e.p starts fast with "Giddy Up" - a track with rapid fire vocals. "Raggamuffin Business" is more mellow, but you'll certainly be treated to some great, fast-delivered vocals. In fact, each track features incredible vocal "toasting" - the rap-like reggae vocals delivered fast and with much emphasis. Special guests include Maka B, Ital Horns, Cheshire Cat and more.
Mungo's Hi-Fi & Y.T. - "No Water Down Ting" - (Scotch Bonnet)
Over the past few years, Mungo's Hi-Fi has become a leading reggae artist, appealing to the roots reggae crowd and those more included to listen to Major Lazer. Beginning as a Glascow, Scottland-based sound system is the classic Jamaican tradition, their sound mends reggae, dub and dancehall with electronics that is perfect for a party or a global music festival. They have collaborated with many artists, including Prince Fatty. Here, they team up with England-based vocalist YT. "God Bless Pickney" is a track that uses the riddim to Hugh Mundell's "Jacqueline." "No Water Down Ting" features the great Johnny Osbourne doing a variation of "Ice Cream Love." "Bumpercart" is a great skank and a standout track. Another great album from Mungo's that will start any party.