(Reality Chant)

Canterbury reggae stalwart Gabriel “Messenjah” Calcott enlists vocalist Israel Starr Buchanan for the latest release on his own Reality Chant label. The three-track EP includes a trio of versions of this, his newest and most impressive riddim – a vocal featuring Starr, an extremely potent dub and the stripped back original minus Starr’s input.

Buchanan has significant reggae pedigree in this country: his father is none other than veteran microphone controller Mighty Asterix, who’s toasted upon many a sound over a long period of time. Starr is more a singer than his father and his effort here touches on Bible verse and familiar Rastafari phrasing and refrains. It’s a nice turn and Messenjah has done some tidy work enhancing the young Buchanan’s voice.

But for my money the reverb, echo and delay-soaked dub version is the highlight, reflecting a late 1970s to early 1980s vibe reminiscent of the great studios like Tubby’s, Jammy’s and Channel One. The dub deserves a proper treatment on a well-tuned sound and some of its intricacy and power will be lost when heard through headphones (or worse still, those dreadful earbud things the kids use these days).

I’ve been following Gabriel’s output for a while now and the effort he’s put into this one is clear to hear. A quick word about the video: shot in the backdrop of some breath-taking South Island mountain scenery, it hints at a narrative of a dystopian future in which people must look to ancient texts and understandings to overcome an uncertain time.

More info:
Reality Chant Facebook
Israel Starr Facebook

Jeff Neems