The Archives, ESL Music
Reggae band The Archives have just released their self-titled debut album with ESL Music.
The Archives began when Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton began a quest to explore the roots of reggae music. He asked keyboard ace Darryl “D-Trane” Burke to put together a cover band that would introduce club goers to the rock steady hits and obscurities of the pre-reggae era. When the group began writing original material, Burke contacted players he knew that could bring a progressive vibe to the music.
“Everyone in the band has recorded and toured internationally with acts like Eek-A-Mouse, Culture, Gregory Isaacs and The Abyssinians,” Burke explains. “We weave together the best of foundation roots, rock steady, early dub and dancehall influences with arrangements that use funky throwbacks such as jazz flute, melodica and organ to create a classic, yet fresh and conscious sound.”
The band landed a two-year residency at the DC club Patty Boom Boom. Nightlong sets that often saw them playing 60 tunes or more allowed them to hone their sound and win an audience of dedicated fans. “It takes time to create new flavors,” Burke explains. “Playing weekly allowed us to simmer this stew and unify our sound. Now we’re comfortable in any situation and confident that we can step up and take it to the next level.”
The Archives feature vocalists Ras Puma, the charismatic singer on Thievery Corporation’s Culture of Fear, and Lenny Kurlou (S.T.O.R.M.). Mateo Monk (Sankofa Blackstar) plays guitar, flute and melodica; Burke (Moja Nya, Eek- A-Mouse, Gregory Isaacs) is on keyboards and drummer Leslie “Black Seed” James Jr. (Culture, Eek-A-Mouse) and bass player Justin “Relentless” Parrott (Claudius Linton) round out the lineup. The songs were composed collectively and all band members contributed to the arrangements.
With Eric Hilton behind the board and Thievery Corporation’s head engineer, Chris “Stone” Garrett, adding his magic to the mix, the band laid down 13 tracks full of smoking soul and sufferation. Burke’s funky clavinet and James’s one drop drumming introduce “Ghetto Gone Uptown.” Puma and Kurlou alternate lead vocals and add smooth harmonies to the chorus of this lover’s rock jam. The vibe is mellow, but the lyrics are a serious examination of the country’s economic woes. Legendary dance hall DJ, producer and Thievery Corporation vocalist Sleepy Wonder sings lead on “Music Is My Prayer,” an ode to the healing powers ofmusic. His scat-infused vocal on this sweet, laid-back track owes a debt to the work of Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose.