Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Black Seeds Push Things Forward

Can reggae be psychedelic or dark? That's a question I was left wondering while listening to the Black Seeds album Dust and Dirt. The Black Seeds undoubtedly play reggae, as that little riff that everyone knows is there, but it's what they do around that riff that makes Dust and Dirt such a worthwhile listen. You see, The Black Seeds take the genre of reggae so far away from the stereotypical sound that I was left wondering whether or not it's fair to call what they play reggae anymore.

From moody, dark, nearly ambient stuff to psychedelic jams, The Black Seeds are clearly pushing the boundaries of the genre throughout Dust and Dirt and they do so with such style and skill that at times you forget what’s going on. In fact, two or three songs into Dust and Dirt I was considering that the press release included with the CD was wrong. The Black Seeds have such an intriguing un-reggae approach to reggae that it’s truly something you have to hear to believe. But I guess that's to be expected because The Black Seeds hail not from the Caribbean, not even the UK, but rather the south western side of the Pacific ocean...way down in New Zealand. Their take on the genre is totally refreshing, challenging, and musically brilliant. They take the framework of reggae and then start tacking things on to it to give it additional depth. A bass wobble here, a trippy ambient passage there it's all fair game to these guys and what Dust and Dirt ends up sounding like is a reggae album for people who appreciate music more than they should. At times sounding like old Chili Peppers lost in the streets of Jamaica via New Zealand, Dust and Dirt is so far out there that it just mesmerizes.

Dust and Dirt proves that reggae can be just as diverse a musical form as anything else. While its foundation hasn't changed in eons, it's what is tacked on to it that gives the genre it's uniqueness and without a doubt The Black Seeds add so much to it that it's barely recognizable. These guys are amazing at what they do and they've pushed the genre forward decades through their reckless experimentation and downright funky jams. Not bad for a bunch of guys so far away from the Caribbean it's hard to think about.

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