Moving Production (2008)

The Conscious Roots compilations are a bit of an institution in the Aotearoa roots scene. The first edition was truly inspiring. It enlightened untold numbers of kiwis, including myself, to the fact that there was more reggae than Robert Nesta. 

With the addition of two more compilations the series has now become a state of the nation report for our roots scene – displaying the cream of the crop of our roots as well offering a stepping stone for lesser known emerging artists.  For these reasons, I have the utmost respect for the Conscious Roots project. However I have to say, I was a lickle disappointed by some aspects of this fourth edition of this series.

The album does have plenty of good tunes from some of our premier artists on it. Such as This World by Katchafire and the beautiful Way of the World Black Seeds track.

There are also some really impressive tracks from some lesser known artists. Batacuda Sound Machine’s reggae-samba fusion, The Power, comes to mind. I was also really stoked with the deep, almost melancholic, flavours of RJ by the horn heavy ska group, The Managers.

However there were several tracks that, in my opinion, really take away from the vibe of the album. I wont single any artists out, but a couple of tracks in particular are built around drum machine beats and synth noises that have a gimmicky, at times amateurish feel about them.

The sleeve notes talk about incorporating ‘NZ dancehal’ and I presume these tracks are what this refers to. But to me it just seems like a poor attempt at emulating the sound of Jamaican dancehall.

Ideally, digital music technology should be used to create something original and interesting. An example of this would be the approach taken by Olmecha Supreme. Indeed I would consider their track Schematica to be one of the stand outs of this compilation.

I feel a lickle bit empty criticising this compilation. It is after all designed as a showcase for our emerging talent. But I think what really troubled me is that truly deep roots artists like Homefire Burning and Roots Provider were turned down in favour of groups that really aren’t roots at all.