Archive for the The Congos Category

Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos – Icon Give Thank (2012)

Posted in Dub, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Sun Araw, The Congos with tags , , , on August 31, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“You can trace the inspiration for this ninth volume of the FRKWYS series — the RVNG Intl. label’s matching of ‘contemporary artists with those that may have preceded them in style and/or approach’ — back to the 1977 album Heart of the Congos, where the roots reggae harmonies of the Congos met the dub experimentation of Lee Perry, and with legendary results. Here avant-garde post-rockers Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras take Perry’s place without trying to replace him, and the results are trippy, tropical, and — best of all — full of life. After some wide open numbers that are akin to floating in a crystal-blue ocean with mushrooms on the assist (the bleepy and percussive ‘New Binghi,’ the very bright and very Holger Czukay ‘Happy Song,’ both aptly titled), the album slowly morphs and sobers, becoming more Congos-driven with slow, soul-filling chants of freedom sitting on top of waterlogged dubs. The stickler here has to be ‘Jungle,’ which borders on comedic, sprawling across the floor like a screwed and chopped ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’ but consider that there’s plenty of levity to be had on both the West Coast and in Jamaica, the locations where these sessions were recorded. If the two were next to one another, this could be the casual border music, at least the avant roots side of it, so kudos to all involved for the imaginary passport and respect to RVNG for delivering on the idea of the Folkways label in an alternate universe.”

“Back in 2011 Cameron Stallones, a Los Angeles native who records glitchy psychedelia under the name Sun Araw, and the similarly inclined L.A. electronic musician M. Geddes Gengras decamped to Jamaica to record with the legendary roots reggae group the Congos, whose Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry-produced 1977 debut Heart of the Congos was one of the best albums to come out of Jamaica at a time when the island was producing an unprecedented amount of incredible music. It was an odd team-up, a bunch of older, very serious musicians collaborating across stylistic and cultural gaps with a couple of punkish young noise dudes, but the resulting record, Icon Give Thank, is a surprisingly organic synthesis of traditional reggae and envelope-pushing electronic experimentation. Now, what was originally presented as a one-off partnership, has spawned a live sequel.”

YouTube: Sunshine, Jungle, Thanks And Praise
YouTube: Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos – FRKWYS Vol. 9: Icon Give Thank (2012) [Full Album]

The Congos – Heart of the Congos (1977)

Posted in Black Ark, Dub, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Congos with tags , , , , on August 10, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Lee Perry is generally acknowledged as a production genius, but on occasion that genius can be destructive, and while there’s no disputing his talent, sometimes the results can be less than aurally satisfying. This is especially true when it comes to albums, where Perry’s efforts were often erratic. On Heart of the Congos he was brilliant, and across the record’s original ten tracks Perry created a masterpiece of music. Many critics consider this 1977 album one of the best roots records of all time, and at the very least, it was Perry’s apex — only Junior Byles’ Beat Down Babylon is an equal contender. Which is why it’s all the more shocking that the record was turned down by Island, and even back in Jamaica it received only a limited release. It took nearly two decades for Heart of the Congos to reappear, finally reissued with a clutch of period bonus tracks by Blood and Fire. The Congos themselves seem the least-likely contenders to record an exceptional album with Perry. …”

Black Sun Rising: The Congos Interviewed
“‘Fisherman’, the most famous song by The Congos and the opening track from Heart Of The Congos, is well known and loved enough to be considered an absolute classic within the relatively large field of vocal reggae. Bizarrely however, it is rarely heard outside of that context. Everything is present and correct for not just this song but the album as well to be rightly considered high watermarks of Jamaican music. Heart Of The Congos was produced during 1976 and 1977 by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in his Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica. House band, The Upsetters, were on unbeatable form, containing as they did Ernest Ranglin, Sly Dunbar, Mikey Boo, Boris Gardiner, Geoffrey Chung and Winston Brubeck amongst other peerless musicians. The song writing was pre-eminent, with the unusually long gestation period of three years helping shape this process as well as the writing of the vividly imagistic ‘chuchical’ lyrical content. … (Video)
The Quietus

“Heart of the Congos is a roots reggae album by The Congos, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry at his Black Ark studio with a studio band including Boris Gardiner on bass and Ernest Ranglin on guitar. The album was released in 1977. It is noted as being one of Perry’s masterpiece productions of the Black Ark era. …”

YouTube: Fisherman, Solid Foundation, Ark of the Covenant, Open Up The Gate, Children Crying