Following on from last years album “Sky Blue Love” the new 8 track collection from AMJ Collective has something; it’s definitively contemporary but as I listened to the fusion of heavyweight dub & soulful vocals, shot through with latin and african influences, I was put in mind of sounds that emerged in the 1990s. I’m talking about artists like Statik Sound System, Purple Penguin, Henry & Louis, Smith & Mighty and, at the risk of coming across quite the dewy eyed old sentimentalist, i’m talking about a time when music felt full of possibilities in every direction you looked. Then I dug out the press release, and it all started to make sense, Rob Smith (of Smith & Mighty fame) is at the controls of this record, and the trio of Andy Clarke, Mark Spence and John Hollis create a truly deep future roots sound. There are a cast of guest musicians on board; and a particular shout out goes to Oriana Melissa for the spellbinding vocal on title track “Believe”.
The album as a whole is a gorgeous production, but this is not music stuck in the past, it takes what came before and pivots the angle of attack. Opening track “Left Or Right” amply demonstrates this, uniting the head nodding tempo, diaphanous vocals, and evocative trumpets from guest musician Michel Padron. The staccato skank of “Heartbeat” changes the pace and the remainder of the record reverts to the heavyweight sound of the title track, with a series of crisp dub versions. As David Rodigan puts it; “Whenever I see the name AMJ Collective I know I’m going to be in for something special, something different, something unique.”. AMJ Collective, amongst many others, are proof positive, if there was ever any doubt, that the UK roots scene is as strong as ever and that music is always full of possibilities and new directions. Recommended.
BELIEVE LP for release on Record Store Day in France and the UK April 22nd 2017.
Digital release worldwide.
Check out this live performance of “Believe” from the WOMAD festival