Midnite Kings Bell

Midnite Kings Bell
Midnite have always brought pure, righteous roots reggae from St. Croix, USVI and here work with a serious dose of Jamaican talent that ups their game even more. Imagine a form of roots reggae based largely on Bob Marley's atmospheric, acoustic guitar-driven "Talking Blues" and that's where Midnite begin. Single "Mongst I & I" is an admirable example, with clouds of dub floating around a rock-hard mid-tempo rhythm. Vocalist Vaughn Benjamin has a hypnotic delivery; he's smoky, soulful and consistently manages to find hooks within his talk singing. They could have built an entire album based on this kind of thing, but there are some welcome changes of pace, from the ska-like "Torpedo" to the dubbed-out Nyabinghi drumming of "The Quickening." Guest drummer Horsemouth Wallace brings the same backbone he did to Burning Spear; he's polyrhythmic and inventive yet still relaxed as he kicks Benjamin's Spear-like ruminations into high gear. Kings Bell feels entirely fresh despite being composed of the same relatively conservative elements that still characterize roots reggae some 35 years after its invention. This is a sonically sumptuous album that any reggae fan would be well advised to check out. (I Grade)