Conscious Roots 5

I’m glad it’s summer. Summer is traditionally a time for Kiwis to throw down grafting tools, cast off those shackles of concerted analysis, and for many of us, visit places we seldom see in this endlessly diverse nation of ours. There are exciting, fast places as well as dull and slow; warm and chilly; beautiful and dank; relaxing and angst – but there is that undefinable quality that we all recognise as being simply, proudly and undeniably Aotearoa.

So it is with this album. Forget the pigeon-holes – ‘roots’ takes on the meaning specific and relevant to each song. We kick off with an almost gospel feel from Katchafire, across the Pacifica tones of Three Houses Down and into the irie skank of House of Shem.

Traditional ska pokes its head in for a couple of tracks, Tahuna Breaks greets us almost Ben Harper-like with Sunshine. The Kingites represent funk and we hear strains of introspective rock elements from Unity Pacific and Tenement Yard. While Tiki provides the dreamy chant for that 4.20AM slot.

Lacking is a strong presence of female vocal this time, which surprises me. I like to hear the sisters represented, especially given that some groups get a double-billing, and one or two later tracks drag me off the beach and back into the dingy concrete of the city.

But it’s art. And it’s us. And without doubt, it’s conscious.

Spin Zero