Published Jan 01, 2006Bedouin Soundclash may not be a band of itinerant tenting folk like their name suggests, but they are cleverly versed in clashing sound genres. Singer/guitarist Jay Malinowski discovered reggae music accidentally after he realized that "a lot of bands I liked, like Rancid and Massive Attack, had a huge reggae influence." He found common musical ground with bassist Eon Sinclair, a dancehall DJ living in his university dorm and, after securing a jazz student as a drummer, formed Bedouin Soundclash. They virtually dashed into the studio and recorded Root Fire in 12 hours, live off the floor, soon after.
That album was the work of a young band trying to emulate their influences in this case Asian Dub Foundation and a milk crate full of old Jamaican 45s. It found a home on Canada's premier ska label, Stomp Records, alongside other bands that lovingly bastardised Jamaica's music traditions.
Their new release, Sounding a Mosaic, finds them more content in their own skin and leaving the youthful homages behind. In fact, Malinowski refers to it as their "first real album." It still maintains a mixture of Jamaican musical styles vintage rocksteady, roots reggae, modern dancehall but sung by a white kid from Vancouver with Polish roots, and played in a minimalist style evoking the early Police, it's anything but traditional reggae. This amalgam has left many critics scratching their heads and coming up with the ill-suited signifier rock-reggae.
"In terms of rock, it's the only word to really describe the fact that we're not doing straight reggae," says Malinowski, somewhat apologetically. "We've heard people say it's more folky, but that sometimes has bad connotations because we're not really hippies or anything like that. And especially on a punk label they don't like to hear folk."