You have to hear reggae in person. On record it's easy to zone out, to fall into frat boy chillin cliches. But live...damn. It wasn't until I was in Kenya getting knocked over by the bass from the blown out speakers at Basement Club that I really got it. The room moved as one, like a current twitching every leg muscle on every downbeat. When people say "good vibes" they literally mean vibrations -- bass vibrations, human vibrations. There's a physical element. You have to feel it to feel it.
So it's glorious to sit in BuzzRock's practice room in Belmont, Trinidad and hear the sounds I love come together. Sadiki has been leading different versions of the band for more than a decade. They record at his home studio, packed with gear, posters of the most high Haile Selassie, and a CCTV monitor to check the front gate.
The first time I dropped in on a practice the weed went straight to the head. I could barely focus the camera. And Sadiki's lyrics about reparations and oppression made me feel like an unwitting emissary of the imperialist white world, waving a camera and ruining the vibes.
This time I took it easy on the consumption, though fresh green rolled in fresh tobacco leaves is impossible to turn down. I was familiar with the songs and my place in the room. I could watch the band at work without the weight of history on my shoulder.
BuzzRock's recording and practice style is respectful, loose, focused. Not the gnashing struggle I've seen from other bands in the studio. The songs roll out one after the other.
"I'll bubble up to the chorus," Candace the keyboard player said.
"Yes bubble straight through until the change," Sadiki said, "You can leave a little room, you can be generous, if you feel to."
And the music came on and she bubbled, and it sounded damn good.
Below, check a track from their new record and below that, a video from their Dub Choir album (it's excellent, and you can get it here)