Review of “Future” by The Courtney John Project by AltSounds

Review: The Courtney John Project – Future [Album]

Fiwi Music // “If this is the future sound of Jamaica’s burgeoning electronic scene, then it can’t come soon enough”

by BenG_Writes, April 29th, 2013 and has been Read 324 times.
Last Edited by: Ffion Davies April 29th, 2013.

In a sense, Future is a debut album, but in truth Courtney John has been making music in some form for many years now. This latest effort from the St Mary, Jamaica-based reggae team has a much stronger affinity with the electronic side of the genre. Future is actually a good indicator of whereCourtney John and cohorts have taken their sound, injecting it with the sound of early dubstep to give it a cosmic glint. Dubstep and reggae go together perfectly, and this album finds the balance with ease, part clean piano keys and part dirty bassline, all melodic.

The old school dubstep sound is a definite departure from John’s traditional sound, his fascinatingly unique falsetto usually accompanied by a much more traditional reggae sound. Happily this new sound, although still heavily infused with dub and reggae, compliments his ethereal vocals and allows the tune to wind around it. He’s not quite Junior Murvin, sounding more akin toHorace Andy’s smooth soprano sound. In truth, with Future, Courtney Johnet al. have constructed something all their own, devilishly catchy but still progressively experimental. ‘Exploria’ could well be the best reggae track since Major Lazer’s ‘Get Free’ a few years ago. It takes the melodic drip of reggae and infuses it with a deep bass-throb, appealing in the most primal sense.

The garage influence, which played a big role in the growth of dubstep from it’s traditional dub roots, works perfectly with the lilting piano keys and bouncing rhythm, ping ponging off the inside of your head and enveloping your senses like acrid smoke. ‘Nothing for Free’ captures this perfectly, building from a quiet pulse to a pounding, impossibly catchy beat. Thankfully, the group avoid totally embracing the new branch of dubstep and it’s pitfalls, choosing instead to subtly combine the traditional dub sound with modern influences, much like Phase Selector Sound and other British contemporaries. Rather than simply spending two minutes building to a predictable and over-used drop, like, Oh I don’t know, every dubstep artist in the world seems to do right now, they intertwine the two and keep the rhythm flowing. It’s little wonder the group have begun referring to the sound as ‘Rootstronic’, it borrows liberally from roots reggae and the electro-step sound that has been growing across Europe for the past decade.

Thankfully the band retain their live group sound, even with the incorporation of the electronic aspects of their music. There’s little doubt that they’re sound will be seeping from festival speakers the world over in the coming years, creeping up the dancefloor to rattle the smoke from between your teeth and send your feet into a frenzy. ‘Soul Of A Man’ works so well because you can picture it as a technically demanding full band effort, whereas songs by the likes of Skrillex, if expressed with a live band, would come off sounding like a new metal band with an affection for topical samples.

The only real drawback to the album is it’s slightly hollow sound. Perhaps better production could have given the album the deep bass it deserves, but then again maybe I just need some better speakers.

In truth, when the only real complaint you can level at an album is that the bass was a bit lacking, you know that it’s worth a listen. With Future, The Courtney John Project has found a sound to appeal to the old and the new, marrying dub, reggae and electronica in a way that hasn’t been witnessed since Skream first began carving the dubstep scene into peoples consciousness. If this is the future sound of Jamaica’s burgeoning electronic scene, then it can’t come soon enough.

Future is out April 30th on Fiwi Music

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