Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jonny Greenwood is the Controller

Trojan‘s 40th Anniversary in 2007 will see figures from the world of rock, dance and hip-hop take the wheel in the journey through reggae history. Jonny Greenwood, one of the few non-reggae artists to take up the challenge, describes it as ’an honour‘ to put together a Trojan compilation. It’s a task that excites and inspires many and, in this case, one that allows us to venture into the musical mind of one of the World‘s finest contemporary musicians. Despite the Trojan catalogue covering essentially a single genre born of one small island, from over a relatively short space of time, each artist’s take on this vast wealth of reggae music is noticeably different, in pace, mood and style.

Greenwood‘s selection manages to sound classic and warm, yet simultaneously modern and atmospheric. From the gentle flow of Derek Harriot’s ‘Let Me Down Easy’ and the well-known skank of ‘I’m Still In Love‘ (familiar to many as the basis for Donna & Althea’s 80‘s smash, ’Uptown Top Ranking‘), to the more experimental dub sounds from Lee ’Scratch‘ Perry, this collection of records really captures the many faces of Trojan over the last 40 years, as well as capturing the mood of Greenwood himself. The influence of reggae – and especially dub – reverberates through contemporary music like a Black Ark echo chamber.

And this resonance is reflected back in Greenwood’s own reggae selection, which is exceptionally musical, deep, often experimental, but never over-indulgent or impenetrable. In his sleeve notes Greenwood, known for his own talents as a multi-instrumentalist, observes the breadth and depth of this genre saying; “Jamaican reggae is the style of music I always reach for when ranting to friends about there being so many great recordings in the world, and how you could listen to one style of music exclusively for the rest of your life, and it all be great, and varied, and worth hearing”. Expressing how varied and complex a genre it is, he goes on to say: “Really, all musical life is here”.

No comments: