SONGS OF LIFE
* * * *2004 - Insteel Sounds- studio - discs:1
The History of Jamaican music is permeated by its African origins. As it took distance from its American influences (from the Ska period on) Africa became slowly more and more the home land to look for. Actually the mother continent was always there: the slaves (and later free Jamaicans) never lost their genetic rhythm sensibility and Africa was always in the air, or to be more precise the African drumming has always been the pulsing beat of the island. Nyahbingi had been there ever since but when Ska quit what was preceeding, the music really started to get its own pure and independent sound. Further developments brought to Rocksteady which gradually shifted its slow tempo to a slower one with all its implications. Reggae came on the scene and things really changed forever. Tons of pages describe these assumptions far better than these lines here. With Reggae, the Rastafarians took almost the whole control: their message was spread by lyrichs but also through music. It could be said that not all Nyahbingi is Reggae, but exagerrating all Reggae is somehow Nyahbingi. Rastafari ment Ethiopia, His Imperial Majesty, repatriation and a deep need to "look to Africa". We are not able here to write a whole book about the connection between Reggae and Rastafari. Actually is not our purpose. But what many of us were waiting for was some sort of musical answer from the Promised Land of Ethiopia. So here we are. Reggae is back from Addis Ababa via the Nazarenes: Medhane Tewolde and Noah Isac Tewolde. The two brothers grow up in the capital in the mid 70's where no Reggae was heard around. By the mid 80's they played with various bands in Sweden and Germany. The 90's brought them around Europe playing with Jamaican bands. Noah was discovered in 1992 in Sweden were he cut three singles. His long length debut came in 1994 under the name Anbessa. In 2000 the brothers joyned forces for their debut as Nazarenes: "Orit". The present set, "Songs Of Life", is their second album. Here they are backed by Swedish musicians. The album shifts between pure Roots sounds (or what now some call Conscious Reggae), some spice of Lovers (as with "Song Of Mary Jane" and "Song Of Memories") and also some old style Soul atmospheres (in this last case as with the missable "Song Of Mother Earth"). What seems clear here is that this is a concept album: all the tracks name start with "Song Of" indicating a whole project behind. The set presents thirteen tracks. Not all the material is first class, but when the Nazarenes hit they do it seriously. The best tracks featured here are: the deep Roots "Song Of Judgement Day", the fast rocking "Song Of Creation" (featuring T-Root), the meditative Roots "Song Of Righteous Life", the tough "Song Of Liberation" (maybe among the best), the pulsing "Song Of War Mongers", the slow Roots "Song Of Consoling", the contemplative and slow "Songs Of Unity" and finally again a quite fast "Song Of Mission". These tracks make the Nazarenes a first class act from our homeland Ethiopia. Precise, straight, powerful and highly confident, the Nazarenes deliver inside a thirteen tracks set some very very good Roots. With the exception of a couple of tracks, this album is really interesting. Even if some song are really out of the context, I put four stars on it. This album was composed, arranged, produced, recorded and mixed by the Nazarenes. It was cut at Insteel Sounds Studio and Boomsound Studio in Gothenburg, Sweden. Welcome Ethiopia in the Reggae world.