Album review
Lex Parka
Valve Records / Rootdown Distribution
February 7, 2005

Tracking list

  1. Dessert
  2. Word
  3. Screaming
  4. Body
  5. I Am Afraid
  6. I Don't Know
  7. I Am Love
  8. Girl
  9. Romans
  10. Instrumental
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 3/4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4

"Lex" is the completely solo played, written and composed debut album by Lex Parka, who was born in Sao Paulo in Brasil, and who moved to Germany in 1974. Since then he's been musically active in Germany, and in the last ten years he played with reggae-legends like Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Charly Chaplin and the Soon Come Band, and currently he's the guitar player Nosliw's Band for his "Mittendrin"-tour. This is not your average reggae album, as opener "Dessert" immediately makes clear. When you've listened through the whole album released on Solingen (Germany) based Valve Records and distributed by (because of their 'Crystal Woman'-selection now worldfamous in reggae) Rootdown Distribution, you're insecure whether a spelling mistake has been made or that it's intentionally spelled this way. With a voice closer to the Cure's Robert Smith than to the standard reggae vocalist Lex Parka sings in the dessert we go over a straightforward punky reggae riddim. "Word" is switching the backing to gloomy dub, with just a few partly vocodered and rather faint vocals about being just a word, you, you make me say, it and a star role for the weeping guitar. "Screaming" is a strange hybrid of 2Tone-ska and rock'n'roll, with nice driving horns and estranging vocals and lyrics. All songs have that melancholic touch of a singer-songwriter, and always at the same time clearly audible the influence of Jamaican music, but never straightforward ska, rocksteady or reggae. "Body" is over a one-drop like riddim but dominated by 'strange' effects , telling us you are the one / i like to play / around with / somebody / like my own body. "I Am Afraid" is over a slow-paced riddim with horns where you'd expect the keybords or rhythm guitar in a standard reggae riddim in a very melancholic mood again. In "I Don't Know" there's an almost catchy sung duuduuduu dududuu duu that's not enough too conceil the overall sadness of the lyrics, over the very nice almost normal reggae riddim. In "I Am Love" it's one stretched synth-note, embellished by an intriguing horn-riff backing the attempt to crooning the lyrics, this is fabulous when you're in the right mood for it, but could also you send you into banging your head against the wall, and it's followed by the great dub workout "Girl" with a sparse riddim and a great horn riff. "Romans" sounds like a meeting between an oldschool reggae DJ, a mid 70s reggae riddim, and a contemporary avantgarde producer, with a jazzy 'singing' guitar upfront in the mix. The album is closed by the heavy dubbed up "Instrumental" where the guitar provides the melancholic melody, sometimes almost jazzy, sometimes nearly rocking. This is a very strange album, that I enjoyed a lot, and if you're not afraid of experiments, you should definitely give it a listen.


/ Souljah Green Beret Productions