ALBUM REVIEWS

GROUNDATION – “The Next Generation” (2018)

Written by Nenad Pekez

GROUNDATION
“The Next Generation”
Reggae/Jazz/Fusion
(Baco Records, 2018)

This is far from being a strong Groundation album and I will be surprised if it leaves any significant mark in reggae music, unlike many previous albums. Simply, the new lineup will need time to fully fit together and find its own sound.

GROUNDATION are back. To a certain extent. I wish this introduction sounds more pompous and is followed by the excitement that followed every previous release, but that’s simply not the case. The reason is simple: Groundation has returned only partially, in the form of frontman Harrison Stafford, while the rest of the band has been completely changed! Without pointing to the significance of each member of the old band, but besides Stafford, bassist Ryan Newman and keyboards Marcus Urani (also founders of the band) were the core and essence of the band. Now with only a third of this core, we’ve got a different Groundation as well.

The causes of this sudden change are still unknown, as the band has never revealed any official information, which of course has caused many speculations and disapproval of the fans. Speculations about causes of the breakdown included the lack of inspiration and general fatigue with the music as well as that Harrison took everything into his own hands and decided to turn a new sheet without asking and getting permission from other members (which I doubt). Either way, the new band contains some phenomenal, young and talented musicians who have a huge potential to build a new and powerful sound in the future. The new album focuses entirely on the introduction of this new band, and hence the title of the album “The Next Generation”.

“The Next Generation” is one of the bands most diverse albums in terms of genres. Apart from the main reggae groove, there is a lot of jazz, funky and soul progressions (dominant in this style is the “Lion in Man”), and some new moments are present as well such as a big band lineup with 12-horns in the “Vanity”. This album also attempts to insert crossover and fusion at all costs and justify what stands Groundation out from the rest of reggae bands. However, this attempt is somehow obvious, even forced and lumbering, with a lot of generic moments. Even the first album of the band did not contain much crossover, but it came after several years of hard team work. The same thing, of course, is waiting the new lineup.

This is far from being a strong Groundation album and I will be surprised if it leaves any significant mark in reggae music, unlike many previous albums. Simply, the new lineup will need time to fully fit together and find its own sound. However, the fact is that huge potential exists. If the goal of this album was to hint this potential, the goal was achieved fully. At the same time, this is far from being an album that can’t be enjoyed, especially if we take into account very nice production and warm analogue recordings.

Written by Nenad Pekez

Tracklist:
01. Vanity
02. One But Ten
03. New Life
04. Warrior Blues
05. Lion In Men
06. Prophets & Profit
07. Hero
08. Fossil Fuels
09. My Shield
10. Try Me
11. Father & Child

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This is far from being a strong Groundation album and I will be surprised if it leaves any significant mark in reggae music, unlike many previous albums. Simply, the new lineup will need time to fully fit together and find its own sound.

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