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Sola Kamba - Related

Sola Kamba - Related

Sola Kamba - Related

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A big Swiss band and their Jamaican friends deliver some righteous reggae music.

Sampler

The second full album from the Swiss reggae band Sola Kamba is seventeen songs of sweet reggae and dub music. The album Related follows their 2012 release Wallisically. Those who grooved to the conscious sounds in their first effort will find this even more controlled—and the huge contribution of some legendary Jamaican reggae stars just adds to the great music from (as I’ll dub them) “the righteous prophets of the Alps.”

Sola Kamba - RelatedSola Kamba hails from the Canton of Valais (or Wallis) in the southwest of Switzerland. In fact the band recently released an EP of four cuts (featuring Big Youth and others) on their riddim Wallace inna Wallis, a delicate and clave-based riddim named after their home region. Wallace? That would indeed be Leroy Wallace, lovingly known as “Horsemouth.” While we’re at it, the name Sola Kamba—I couldn’t figure out what it meant so I asked Mr. B, Sola Kamba’s ace piano player and he told me:

“Kamba has a meaning of family, circle, friendship. It’s an African word. Sola is shortened from solar, and has a meaning of light, sun, music. In French, the note G is sol and the note A is lad. So all together it has a meaning of children of music or something like that.”

Related has the feel of big band with a proclivity to a jazzy swing. Singjay Ian Grant delivers consistent vocals, chanting lyrics of both socially conscious (Natural Feel) and spiritual content (Lively Light) with a distinct focus on the spirit of Rastafari. But wait! The vocals on Related include a fabulous ska cut called Ska Remenecing toasted by no less than U-Roy, and on Time and Space the Congo’s Cedric Myton pipes in with his unmistakable falsetto. (I felt compelled to grab Heart of the Congos immediately). When you add excellent poetics of Prince Alla and the groove of RZ Jackson, well the listener is continuously uplifted by a range of righteous singing. Now add to this the drumming of Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (of Rockers fame) and the variety and shift in feel keep Related always novel.

A lot of Swiss reggae talent is here too. Mr. B. on piano, Eric Posse and Gaëtan "El Chouka" Morardon on percussion, Justin’James on bass, Jean-Denis, Lionel lead and rhythm guitar (with a great solo in Ska Reminiscing)—well I want to list them all-- Nicolas Devènes on trumpet, Mike Roux on sax, Zak on flute. And there are some excellent backup harmonizing too.

It’s good that this band works hard in the studio because big-band reggae can get unwieldy on stage, especially when one expands the horn section. But the work at Groovharmony by Sola Kamba Productions has given us a well-crafted message of Rastafari—and why not send it to us from the shadow of the Matterhorn? More power to Sola Kamba as they continue to focus deeper into the conscious reggae they so obviously love. 

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