I Grade and Midnite have
once again come together to collaborate on "Vijan", the latest
dose of St. Croix roots reggae to be unveiled by I Grade Records. Vijan
features Midnites mystical lead vocalist, Vaughn Benjamin, and
drummer Dion Hopkins joining Laurent "Tippy" Alfred,
Tuff Lion and Kenyatta Itola on 14 wonderful selections.
Vijan continues the
Midnite tradition of unrelenting lyrics that seem to penetrate deeper and deeper each time
they are listened to. Vaughn Benjamins amazing insights are distilled into poignant
lyrics poured over hard core base lines. Tuff Lions delicate and melodic riffs are
gently stirred into the mix to create an intense spiritual and musical potion.
What is particularly intriguing about
Vijan is how producers Vaughn Benjamin and Laurent
Tippy" Alfred are able to maintain a pure roots sound over such
diverse tempos. From the pounding nyahbinghi of "Structa" to the light-hearted
melody of "Cradle Of Joy". From the soulful sound of "Scornful" to the
acoustical selections "Days Come" and "Blackson Rays". Vaughn
also demonstrates his musical abilities by playing all the instruments on "Thanks for
Vijan is the 10th
album to have been released by Midnite. Their four albums (Unpolished,
Ras Mek Peace, Jubilees of Zion, Seek Knowledge
Before Vengeance) are complimented by the two previous I Grade collaborations: Nemozian
Rasta and Assini, and the Midnite Branch I projects: Cipheraw,
Geoman and He is Jah.
To all lovers of the cultural roots reggae
music that used to be so abundant in Jamaica, I say "Look to the east". For
right now on the island of St. Croix, there is a caldron of conscious roots music getting
ready to explode. Midnite and I Grade Records stand at
the forefront of this movement, and Vijan is an excellent release that deserves to be
added to the collection of all reggae music lovers.
'Assini' is Midnite's fifth album and also their
first release in 2002, already followed by two more cd's entitled 'Seek Knowledge
Before Vengeance' and 'The Cipheraw'. This 'Assini'
set could be regarded as a kind of 'Nemozian Rasta Volume 2', but only if
you listen superficially. Vaughn Benjamin and Laurent
"Tippy" Alfred arranged the album and they created an atmosphere on 'Assini'
which is more or less hypnotic and darkish, we would call it a 'dwelling' sound. - More
Every once in awhile, I find an artist or group that totally blows me away. Nasio
Fontaine has been that artist since 1998. This singer/songwriter from Dominica is one of
the most talented and righteous bredrin I've ever heard. I still feel he's deserving of
superstardom. But recently I was turned on to a group called Midnite and
they are, in a word, incredible. Hailing from St. Croix, this quintet has a raw roots
sound which is unlike any other. They've released three excellent discs, but the one
that's being reviewed here is their second collaboration with I Grade
records (their first is another crucial release entitled "Nemozian Rasta").
This admittedly is not an easy album to listen to; it certainly took me the longest
of all of Midnite's albums so far to get into. The pace is slow,
the melodies indistinct, the overall tone is somber, subdued, and serene. This isn't
to say that Assini sounds so terribly different from previous Midnite
albums. In fact, it sounds like a direct extension of Nemozian Rasta
(both "Midnite - I Grade Collaborations"), except without as much of an
experimental, dynamic edge. - More