Chiefdom Records LP and Digital Download
I was reading the press release which accompanied this marvellous instrumental album by Nomadic Warriors and one phrase in particular jumped out. ‘It’s how it is captured that makes it great’ was the line, and that got me thinking of how important that vintage sound is to both reggae fans and producers. I have featured many artists on this reggae blog who are dedicated to the craft of producing music that captures the intrinsic sound of Jamaican recordings, but why is it so important to us?
Hailing from Cincinnati in the US, Nomadic Warriors are a collective of some of the city’s finest musicians, brought together for this project by producer and Chiefdom Records owner Grimez. They have captured a sound that can be described as lo-fi jazz reggae meets movie soundtracks. The album was recorded on analog tape using vintage gear and you don’t have to have a musician’s ear to hear nods to the past in these recordings.
What draws me to these vintage style recordings is the connection to a past that I didn’t experience first time round. (I would wager that most, if not all of you reading this where not living in Jamaica during the evolution of reggae music!) Added to this is an appreciation of what modern musicians, with their myriad of influences, can bring to the genre. You can always love those classic reggae albums, but this clash of old and new works for me on a different level. Albums like this feel like a distillation of everything that is good from the last few decades of music. Each musician brings in their own influences and this makes tracks with such depth.
So what is this album actually like? The album kicks off with ‘Immortal Ancestors’ probably my favourite track. This has a nice slow groove with some great horn work. Thinking of the soundtrack point, the horns remind me of the bar scene music from the original Total Recall film. The album is not big ‘in yer face’ bass reggae, it’s more subtle and refined than that. In most tracks bass and keyboards say reggae, but horns and guitars bring in different styles. Second track ‘Delusion’ is the stuff of pure 70s film soundtrack. The keyboards and guitars head off into a twiddly sunset together, weaving their own distinctive style, in fact perfect backing music for an American psychological thriller. Agua Colonies is another stand out track, it has a lovely simple bass line that grounds the track whilst the keyboards go off into a more dramatic direction. It’s all excellent stuff.
Integrity and Originality
I don’t want you to think that this album is all about it’s influences, these guys are great musicians and have certainly brought some great ideas to the recordings. Going back to the starting phrase ‘It’s how it is captured that makes it great’, the album ticks the vintage boxes as production, sound, feel and vibe are all spot on. But all this does need to be backed up by sound, original song writing and this album has it in buckets. I love the album as it taps into my musical likes and experiences, I can appreciate those snippets from the past but I can also appreciate the integrity and originality.
I hope this review has convinced you to pick it up. The album is available in its digital form from the Chiefdom Records Bandcamp page. If you want a proper slice of vinyl, then you can pre-order from the US at fatbeats (it’s out on the 27th January 17) and the UK and EU at Redeye.
I hope you like this album, it’s cool to highlight music that may otherwise slip under the radar. Leave a comment if you can and please share via Facebook and Twitter. Bless, Paper Lion