Rebelution Brings Diversity with Cali-Reggae on 'Count me In' Image

by Jordan Delahaye

Reggae music is everywhere and still growing. It’s unlikely that a sound like reggae, so original in its nature and coming from such a small urban community in the time that it did, would go on to become as big as it has. Reggae’s unlikely history however, is part of the genre's charm and it continues to inspire a diverse cadre of musicians, even today.

Rebelution is a Cali-reggae fusion outfit that was formed in Santa Barbara, California. The lead singer and guitarist, Eric Rachmany, has a voice that you probably wouldn't expect to find in an urban genre like reggae but it works, as the band’s unique hybridization somewhat de-urbanizes the sound. Much of that raw sonic element that reggae usually carries is obscured and a new equilibrium is highlighted.

Rebelution seemed to have envisioned what it would be like if Steel Pulse met the post-punk era and presented the pastiche on their latest album, Count Me In. On some tracks the reggae inspiration is subtle while others require no inspection.

"Hate to Be the One", instantly stands out on the album and features Collie Buddz, armed with his mastered deejay-style lyricism that both contrasts and compliments the band’s unique approach to reggae music. Collie Buddz sounds at home on the reggae elements of the track while Rebelution’s contemporary blend lends him some edge. 

"Roots Reggae Music" rides a one-drop backbeat with a heady roots flavour and features Don Carlos on what is the album’s only other collaborative track.

The final track, “Invasion”, brings a distinct peculiarity to the familiar message presented in the lyrics, against the animated backdrop of the music. The rebellious chant against greed touts the same reggae undertone present throughout the album but settles in a completely unique soundscape that is not quite reggae, and although it also presents a distinct rock inspiration, is not quite that either. The track expresses the same fusion hybrid sound channeled throughout the album with all boundaries on creative liberty completely blurred.

"Fade Away” is probably the least “reggae-sounding” song on the album but reggae is still there in its undertow. The genre is stripped down to its pulse here and layered with an alternative rock intonation. On the other hand, the album also presents songs like "Against the Grain" which are undeniably reggae. The horn troupe in "Against the Grain" enhances the song's uplifting narrative and a steady bass rhythm imbues an infectious reggae vibration.

Horns also prevails on the sophomore track, "De-Stress", which opens with a reggae flourish to rival any other and maintains a rocksteady groove throughout Rachmany's inspired performance. The band introduces a jazzy sax solo in the bridge that is as enticing as it is unexpected.

The other members of the band, Marley D. Williams on bass, Rory Carey - keys and Wesley Finley at the drums, seem to all share Rachmany’s passion for the reggae genre and fusion sound - a passion that translates into their music.

Dub music is one of reggae’s offspring that has gone on to inspire many popular genres today like dancehall, hip hop and the au courant dubstep. 

Count Me In with its bold range also exhibits some post-dub elements in tracks like “Lost in Dreams”. In fact the entire album could be heard as a dub derivative as it incorporates stripped down reggae riddims that are built on through various reinterpretations and reshaped with the introduction of diverse foreign elements.

Reggae fusion acts like Rebelution and the female lead Wilde Belle, show that, despite its humble beginnings, reggae has managed to transcend social barriers and pervade most cultures. The metaphoric "small axe falls big tree" maxim is at the very heart of reggae music and though the axe may be small, it has a growing army of diverse and lyrically charged musicians at its helve.

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