Reggae music’s classic sound has inspired musicians from the most unlikely cultures and it is interesting, at the very least, to hear their interpretations of the sound as they continue to extend its reach.
While reggae may have originated in the land of wood and water, its continued growth and development is a collaborative effort between record labels and musicians all over the Caribbean and the world at large, who are dedicated to the sound.
Take Pressure for example, who hails from Saint Thomas, one of the small islands among the Virgin Islands’ Archipelago. The musician garnered critical acclaim in Jamaica and on the global reggae stage in 2007 with “Love and Affection”. His album of the same name which was composed by producer extraordinaire, Don Corleon, produced similar results.
Yet the average reggae enthusiast who isn’t in the loop would be quick to assert that the musician was Jamaican. While a great deal of the troops in the reggae battalion do hail from Jamaica – where they are produced in the droves as if by some clandestine Rastafarian boot camp – there are eminent reggae acts like Pressure and the Italian Alborosie, who are not originally Jamaicans.
Pressure highlighted and celebrated his homeland on his latest album, The Sound, with a track aptly titled “Virgin Islands Nice” and Pressure relays how he travels the world with “Virgin Islands pride”. His pride is resounding as the singer acknowledges roots reggae band Midnite, Spurs center and power forward Tim Duncan, and Julian Jackson – one of the world’s most formidable middleweight boxers, who all hail from the Virgin Islands.
Midnite collaborates with Pressure on “Nothing No Wrong”, one of the albums more spiritually inclined tunes – the likes of which are generally unavoidable in the reggae genre which is closely linked with Rastafarian culture.
Fellow Caribbean musicians Lutan Fyah, Volcano, Ras Batch and Niyorah also join Pressure on this his fifth studio album.
“Stop This Train” which features Lutan Fyah, carries a steady ska beat as the musicians seem to wash their hands clean of life’s trifles, opting to exit from a metaphorical train to travel a different, seemingly more conscious, route.
Volcano is featured on “Herbsman Town” which knocks cigarette smoking in favour of , you guessed it, marijuana, and both Ras Batch and Niyorah round out the caste on “Cry for Humanity”.
The Sound is the type of album you would expect from a seasoned reggae act like Pressure. The music is pristine and while it features a traditionally reggae vibe, there are moments of contemporary triumph.
“Herbsman Town” bears an unmistakable island edge with what sounds like a surf rhythm masterfully layered beneath a reggae beat.
“Runaway” displays a deep, synthetic, ambient sound that is almost psychedelic in nature but the down tempo reggae rhythm that it is fused with bestows a distinct dub-reggae flavour. “Hail The King of Kings” also features a dub style and the title track pairs African drumming with a rhythmic guitar progression that leaves a Mediterranean impression. The title track stands out among the gems on the album with its infectious sonic.
The Sound features Pressure in an authentic setting where he takes listeners on a sonic adventure through reggae, offering an inspired take on the sound; and while there were only a few major attractions, the overall compilation featured enough intriguing scenes to make the trip worthwhile.