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Pentateuch - Chapter V

Pentateuch - Chapter V

Pentateuch - Chapter V

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An acoustic EP from a talented band of enormous potential.

Sampler

The release of the EP acoustic Chapter V is the next step in the evolution of the Kingston-based reggae band Pentateuch. All five cuts on Chapter V are covers of tunes from their very fine debut album Genesis, from 2012. Pentateuch and Jussbuss made a series of acoustic videos on Jacks Hill in Kingston, including the remarkable Going Home, and the band felt that the substance was there to take it back to the studio to rework of some of the hits from their first album. The result is a great look at the musical structure and choices of the group—but even if knew none of that you would still sit up and take notice of this young band.

Pentateuch - Chapter VTo understand the philosophy of the band is first to understand that the name Pentateuch is symbolic of a serious spiritual outlook on life. The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible (the Torah). These books are the foundation of the Old Testament—and any band that would pick this name does so in a serious state of mind.

I know: they’re young. This band was formed in 2009 when its members (who were really young then) started playing together at Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. Jamaican producer Clive Hunt has recently made some suggestions that Edna Manley should improve its reggae education, and he may be right for all I know, but Pentateuch is certainly an argument that fine musicians who can handle reggae are nurtured well at the school.

It is hard to underestimate the beauty of Going Home, the opening song of this EP. I first heard the song in its full-band, well-produced form on Genesis. What was the band going to do when they went acoustic? First, Pentateuch has slowed down the tempo, the backing vocals are nearly absent in the acoustic, and the strong sense of one drop that prevailed in the initial cut is now less predominant; beat three is cleared for the bass. This is a much restrained version. Most importantly the addition of the poet Mutabaruka has given the entire song a solemn cast. You might say that greater gravity this is the theme of Chapter V, a slowing down the tempo to almost largo at times, and letting the melodies and the very fine voice of lead singer Vor Williams come through—and it is a voice that could dominate reggae in a few years. It’s honest and so very warm.

Vor is backed by Worm Ayre on bass, Jah Bradey on drums, Drade Bowen on keyboards, and Duckie Forester handles the guitar. (Maybe this lineup has changed a bit.) The second cut, Black Face, was a hit for the band in 2012, complete with video. It is an anthem supporting black pride. The acoustic version has, again, slowed considerably, and the piano and guitar handled the work that was previously given to band member vocals and backup singers. What was Struggles of Africa on Genesis is now Africa and on Chapter V the song has become a Rastafari chant conjuring up Ras Michael himself. Time Bomb is definitely influenced by Peter Tosh’s Fools Die for Want of Wisdom. Change urges social commitment and closes Chapter V.

This is a young band. Where will the gods of the music world take them? They have all the potential in the world. Both Genesis and the EP Chapter V make if abundantly clear they can be great. The single Kingston shows they can drive hard. Yes, I know one has to let them find their own way—a band’s soul has a timetable all its own. But look at the changes these talented guys have undergone since 2009. If this they can continue to mature and grow, to move toward greater defiance and come out fighting they could rise from very good to very great.

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