In Search Of Black Judas
Darryl Jenifer is well known as the bassist for hardcore Rasta-punk pioneers Bad Brains, the band that forever changed the world's understanding of what both punk and reggae could mean. And although frontman H.R. generally occupied the spotlight during the band's long career, Jenifer's long-awaited solo album makes clear how central he has always been to the Bad Brains' sound. "Black Judas" is pure one-drop reggae with a hard edge and vocals that are softly crooned in octaves; shades both of later Bad Brains' material and of H.R.'s early solo work. Elsewhere, the beats are chopped up and interspersed with snippets of sampled Rastafarian reasoning ("Trinity Rub"), or subtly funked up with dollops of Augustus Pablo-style melodica ("Away Away"), or stretched out gently and ecstatically into dubwise outer space (the oddly titled "Hey Love Mosh"). Over the past decade or so, Jenifer has made a name for himself as a producer for reggae-influenced bands like Bedouin Soundclash and Sublime, and the skills he's acquired at the mixing board stand him in good stead here; everything sounds carefully layered and balanced, but there's never any hint of slickness or commercialism. Jenifer lets his bass lead the way with dark and richly melodic lines and builds everything else on top of and around them, creating tracks that draw deeply on reggae roots while still sounding utterly fresh and new. The only thing that's frustrating about this excellent album is that it was so long in the making: here's hoping we won't have to wait so long for the next one.