MIDNITE BRANCH I
Without a doubt, 2002 was the year that St. Croix made its mark in the reggae world,
with more than enough crucial releases. The Midnite Branch I, which is a side project of Midnite -
the hottest band on the planet - checked in just before the new year with their second
and complex disc of the year, this one entitled "Geoman."
Midnite Branch I's current line-up consists of Midnite's bassist (Phillip Merchant),
their drummer (Dion
Hopkins) and their lead vocalist (Vaughn Benjamin). Laurent "Tippy" Alfred, the producer
for I Grade Records (which whose label "Geoman" is on) also lends his musical talents
to the closing track.
This disc has 15 tunes and 66 1/2 minutes of outstanding music. Whereas "The Cipheraw"
(their debut release from earlier in 2002 with Benjamin, Merchant and Eddie Russell III on trumpet)
sounded like Vaughn's vocals were recorded in
a tunnel - and believe me,
that's not all bad - this one is
crisp and clean, and Vaughn Benjamin is, once again, in fantastic form.
The CD starts with the outstanding slow roots tune, "Crown Aim." It then bursts into "M
Street," which is a free form sound with a harder edge, but it really kicks. Then comes
the intense "Powaz of Weed," which is just crucial roots. The other 12 tracks mix in
some different styles with two nyabinghi tunes (and one, "Jah In Dem," has the guest vocals
of Dread Ites and Pressure - from the Star Lion Family). All work, and all truly sound fantastic.
Some other favorites are "People iz I," "The Valyou," "Plureal," "Known," "Poze Arf" and the
closing tune, "Inight."
The one constant, as usual, is Benjamin's trademark vocals.
His voice and delivery are incredible. He's simply a tremendous writer and
one of the best artists out there, in any genre.
The bottom line, though, is that Benjamin has so much to say,
he needs to continue releasing material. So Midnite Branch I and the release of "Geoman" is
basically just another vehicle for Benjamin to get his message out.
We're very fortunate to live in a time when this unique and talented artist (and his bandmates)
music. Even though
it truly is hard to decipher all that he's saying, and it's a drag that there's no lyric sheet
(or I guess I should say lyric book, as the man has an incredible amount to say), it's still an essential disc.
So check out the following link and give this disc a listen, then go buy it. Believe me, "Geoman"
is another crucial release emanating from the small island of St. Croix.
To listen to "Geoman" (courtesy of IReggae)...
FREE SKANK SAMPLER
POSITIVE VIBES ON KDHX
GET IN TOUCH
WHO IS PROFESSOR SKANK?