An unintended geographical twist, coronavirus-induced, found Rob Smith (well-known as both RSD and for his collaborative work with Ray Mighty as Smith & Mighty) locked down in New Zealand earlier in 2020. The Pure and Divine EP is the direct result of that, as well as the debut release from Tobi Jafa’s j.A.f.A. Sound label.

Naptali lends his voice to the project, with Auckland’s Burning Soundz work behind the boards allowing the Luciano protégé to shine through. The original connects the sacred to the skanking, hailing Selassie atop the bass-forward riddim. There is an air of melancholy throughout – more tonal than lyrical – timely given how this year has unfolded. There’s a sense of detail as well, notably the dubwise outro that is definitely appreciated.

RSD then contributes three different takes: a Remix, a Dub Version, and a Jungle Lover’s Version. The remix is an understated take, propelling the vocal out of the aforementioned melancholy. The dub cut allows some echoing haze to creep in quickly, before exploring widely. The guitar is elevated in the mix, the hook is featured prominently, and then there is a thoughtfully deep dive into the drums and bass.

‘Lover’s’ is well used, in that the jungle vibes are subtle, creating an energy shift without sacrificing the aesthetic.  The closer returns to the original riddim for the “Ace Version,” a successful nod to the keyboard innovators of the Jamaican 60s. Hetha Joy solos and soars, counterbalanced by a very nice breakdown section.

The Pure and Divine EP is available via Bandcamp as well as other prominent platforms.

More info:
j.A.f.A. Sound Bandcamp
Jafa Mafia Facebook

The Groove Thief
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