November 9, 2009
Disc One - Vocal
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
From Spain's capital Madrid comes Amalgamah's double CD "Mellow Roots", an album that surely will appeal strongly to almost everyone who loves to listen to Roots Reggae with feeling.
Amalgamah is the personal project of Carlos Alonso, who has gained a lot of experience throughout the years as a member of different musical formations and reggae bands like Hotdrop, Mood Rakers, Soulvibes or Dub Rebels. Besides himself this project features well-known singers in the current Spanish reggae scene such as Roberto Sánchez (from A-Lone Ark Muzik) and Ranking Forrest along with singers from bands like Hotdrop (Javier Ochoa, Camila Monasterio and Santiago Mijarra) or Emeterians (María Martins) and artists such as Inés Pardo, Yeyo Perez, or the Twins Sisters (Lorraine and Beatrice Casas).
To record the riddims for this album Carlos Alonso has collaborated with experienced musicians. The unmistakable drum patterns of Gabriel Marinero and the powerful basslines of David Arribas, form the base on which everything else rests. The guitars of Santiago Mijarra and Carlos Alonso's arrangements of keyboard and percussion complement the rhythmic foundation of the songs. In addition there's also the special collaboration of musicians like Jose Manuel Pizarro (composer, flutist and multi-instrumentalist), the brass section of the band Lone Ark Riddim Force, and the distinctive jazzy guitar play of Juan Pablo Garcia.
"Mellow Roots" consists of two discs, the first being a vocal set -- i.e. almost entirely as "Musical Tale" is an instrumental -- that contains 13 entertaining tracks of thoroughly good quality. The full sounding 'live' played riddims, at times strongly referring to riddims and patterns of Jamaican music from the 1970s, are amazingly well crafted and truly a joy to hear. Also vocally each and every singer involved delivers an above par effort, while lyrically it's pure consciousness we are treated to.
Things get started with the mid-tempo, feelgood sounding "Sunny Day", a solid tune that deals with leaving the pressure and pollution of the big city behind to enjoy the pleasures of the countryside. Next comes the awesome "Bring A Solution", which has a deep roots feel and brings to mind a group like The Meditations. Female vocalist Inés Pardo takes the lead in the beautiful "Natural Revolution", with a horn line reminiscent of Bob Andy's classic "Unchained" riddim from Studio One, while Lorraine and Beatrice Casas aka the Twins Sisters' angelic vocals shine bright on the wonderful lovers song "Return To Me", coming across a riddim that incorporates real nice flute and organ parts. Somehow this track reminds us of works the Love Joys recorded with producer Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes. Next up is the solid "Seriously", which is followed by the matching "My Brother", both featuring Carlos Alonso as lead vocalist. "Lost" is and outstanding cultural piece, actually a combination tune delivered by Carlos Alonso and María Martins.
After the fine instrumental "Musical Tale", the real mellow part of this cd comes to the forefront with the next three tracks. First it's the soulful lovers tune "My Queen" (sung by Roberto Sánchez) with its beautiful harmonies that caresses the ear, and then "Cruisin" with a Treasure Isle-esque intro that instantly grabs you and makes you wonder whether Bitty McLean has also lent his vocal skills to this project. However when the vocal drops in it turns out to be Carlos Alonso who delivers an effort worth of hearing. Camila Monasterio rounds off this part in fine style with the jazzy "Blaze". The last two tracks, the uplifting "Soldier" and Ranking Forrest's deejay piece over the same riddim titled "Rootsman Take Over", are strong roots tunes and a worthwhile closing of disc one.
The second disc brings us the Dub mixes of the vocal tracks, all mixed by Roberto Sánchez at A-Lone Ark Muzik Studio in Santander, Cantabria (north of Spain). Roberto Sánchez, a young producer, engineer, singer and musician, is known for recording and releasing music that keeps alive the style and sound of the 70's roots reggae music, in terms of recording techniques and instruments used. Here his dub mixes bear the mark of the early 70's dub outings, which implies that the mixing is fairly subdued, with only few effects employed on the riddim tracks in order to bring out the essential strength of the riddims.
For most reggae aficionados it might not be very easy to lay their hands on Amalgamah's "Mellow Roots", but if you come across this album... just don't hesitate and buy it, because this one is value for money!