Larking About EP review

Various Artists – Larking About EP – Review

Various Artists: Larking About EP Review by Mr Topple for

A classic Studio One riddim has been reawakened for the 21st century – with a sympathetic makeover and some compelling performances to boot.

Larking About EP, released via H2 Recordings, sees various artists give their interpretations across a modern-day version of the classic Studio One Larking About Riddim – with producer Wooligan and executive producer Paul Nash making sure it is all done in style.

The reimagined Larking About is a classic Roots track based on the equally classic riddim, but with some twists. The basic principles of the genre are in place – and used effectively. Keys run a choppy bubble rhythm in the mid-range of their register, and rarely deviate from this, giving the track its classic Roots feel. Guitars perform a pleasing skank, just out of earshot. Drums play into this by performing a stuttering rhythm where the snare hits the two and four and hi-hats tinker in between. However, the bass avoids a drop-beat rhythm, instead opting for a riff that hits every beat – although it still provides breathing space by making some notes staccato.

There is some interesting additional instrumentation too. An electric organ runs a veritable skank, with nice attention to detail in terms of the level of vibrato. There’s a second guitar line which runs a decent solo riff line, as well – bringing something additionally sombre on top of the track’s minor key. The additional percussion is great – including triangle, bongos, and what sounds like a vibraslap.

Then, the various artists come on board.

Macka B delivers a powerful vocal across Thanks to the Ras. He starts with a spoken word section before branching out into straight singjay on the verses. Here, he takes some intricate rhythmic patterns and marries them with complementary melodic lines – resulting in a vocal that is engaging and appealing. On the choruses, Macka B goes to a straighter vocal, which is equally effective. And his lyrical content is inspired – paying tribute to all his cultural Rastafari forefathers who helped destigmatise the use of cannabis and drove it toward the legalisation we have seen in some parts of the world. However, Macka B is careful to warn that the battle is still not over – and there is more work to be done, along with Jamaica and Rastafari getting their dues.

Next is Sky Matic by Matic Horns. It is a trombone instrumental adaptation of the Horace Andy classic Skylarking across the Larking About Riddim. Matic Horns is the music industry’s premier horn outfit which has worked with numerous artists over a 45-year span including UB40, Robert Palmer, Chrissie Hynde, Nenah Cherry, Aswad, and Horace Andy to name just a few. On Sky Matic, Matic Horns takes the role of Andy on the original and makes a superb reimagining of the track in the process. The skill of those involved is undeniable – making their instruments behave like human voices, filled with intricate phrasing, use of legato and staccato notes, glissandos, and some vibrato thrown in for good measure. The sax line is especially joyous.

Then, Linval Thompson gives us Stop It Yute Man. Here, he delivers a smooth yet cautious vocal that works around the higher end of his tenor register. He keeps the vocal straighter as opposed to Macka B’s singjay – delivering compelling melodies across stuttering rhythms. His use of vibrato is especially pleasing – rhythmic and drawn out, it works particularly well with the reverb that has been laced across it. Thompson makes good use of some keen attention to detail on his interpretation – and his lyrics about how those that are badmind need to check themselves as “Jah jah is watching you”, are pertinent and well-constructed; reminding them that they’re doing exactly what Babylon wants.

Finally, Larking About EP closes with Ras Nyto and his interpretation Nyto Style – the stylee in question here being a gorgeous performance across a melodica. It is always a pleasing and expressive instrument – and with Nyto at the helm here is no exception. He weaves complex, multi-layered melodies across the base riddim, which are filled with a mixture of allegro and adagio phrases. Equally, Nyto employs good use of staccato and legato; mixes his rhythmic patterns up with well-placed triplets at points and uses the melodica like a human voice – filled with crescendo, decrescendo, and vibrato. It is a fantastic performance and a fitting closing to the EP.

Overall, Larking About EP is a solid and well-executed piece of work from H2 Recordings and all involved. The original Studio One riddim has been faithfully reimagined; the artists all bring something fresh, inventive, and emotive to the table – and as a sum of its parts, the EP would make a perfect addition to anyone’s collection and available in the Pauzeradio vinyl shop.

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Various Artists Larking About EP Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (7 May 2024).

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