Groundation – Building An Ark
1.) Building An Ark
3.) Be That Way
4.) Payaka Way
6.) The Dreamer
7.) Who Is Gonna
8.) Keep It Up
10.) Sunlight Reflection
The Pier Album Rating:
Record Label: Dub Rockers (VP Records)
Release Date: March 20, 2012 (International & Digital) April 24, 2012 (United States Release)
Official Website: Groundation’s Website
Groundation was founded back in 1998 when Harrison Stafford (Guitar/Vocals), Marcus Urani (Organ/Keys/Piano), and Ryan Newman (Bass) joined together through California’s Sonoma State jazz program. It was at this point when the core of Groundation’s style and sound was in place. To date, Groundation has expanded the full band to include six other members with a horn section, percussion players, as well as background singers. From their debut release Young Tree in 1999, independently on their own Young Tree label. After 14-years together and six previous studio albums, Building An Ark released their first record via Dub Rockers, the new imprint from reggae giant VP Records.
Since Groundation sprouted out of Sonoma County, CA in 1998, the band has been creating a movement of equality through their music. Each previous release from Groundation has respected the traditional reggae and roots music that inspired the band to practice and recreate Burning Spear, Israel Vibration, Don Carlos, Hydraman, and of course, Bob Marley songs as they formed their foundation. That exact foundation is still consistent throughout Building An Ark, yet when listening to their latest album, no other band currently is playing the same type of music Groundation recorded. Perhaps it sounds similar, but Groundation captured the sounds of reggae, that only make you envision, and place you in various parts of the earth.
From the percussions of Mingo Lewis Jr., and steady beats of Te Kanawa Haereiti make you feel as if you are sitting in a drum circle somewhere in the Sahara desert, or just a simple escape from the metropolis in Venice Beach, California. This album highlights the true essence of reggae music. Building An Ark puts the spotlight on the band as a whole, with each member complimenting another. An aspect of the album that stands out are the female vocalists Kim Pommell and Kerry Ann Morgan. The lyrics throughout are completely conscious and self-questioning, and the transitioning, or meshing, between verses and choruses with male and female parts, brings the natural beauty to the forefront on each track. Truthful lyrics find a way of cutting straight to the listeners’ heart, reaching the core of one’s emotion, and Stafford, and Groundation as a whole, accomplished that feat with ease.
On past albums, Groundation has utilized the talents of recognizable reggae artists and special guest musicians to feature on their albums, and individual tracks. However, for Building An Ark, that was unnecessary. One track that compiles everything a reggae enthusiast yearns for can be found in the song “Payaka Way”. Before even one lyric is uttered into the microphone, nearly two-minutes of intertwined instrumentals hypnotize the listener.
Somehow, Groundation’s most recent work is familiar but placed in their very own category. The lyrics challenge the listener, while the music keeps their progressive movement onward an upward. The inspirational fire burning within Groundation’s music is nowhere close to hitting a valley. Entering their third generation as one of California Roots-Reggae founding fathers, Groundation is still on a steady climb to international reggae music’s prosperous peak, and Building An Ark is only the group’s most recent defining moment, amongst countless others.
Written & Reviewed By: Kris Siuta
– Read our Exclusive Interview with Groundation by clicking HERE
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]