Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rewind!: "Meditation Time" by Anthony Que

"Meditation Time" by Anthony Que [149 Records]
2012 has very much been a year brimming with many good things and not the least of them all are the many surprises and surprising moments which has brought us. Speaking of albums specifically (which is what we're doing today) and looking on the whole, as we've examined, the extraordinarily high number of quality sets from such a wide variety of different names has definitely been a great revelation, as have individual sets from the likes of Jah Marnyah (to the rest of you! That was no surprise to me at all) and Reemah. Still, personally, the biggest single surprise, in more ways than one, has been the amazing year turned in by Anthony Que. While I have recognized his talents throughout the years, he likely has had pretty bad fans who have been bigger supporters than I have, but all of that changed in '12 when the singer turned in what had to have been the single greatest year of his entire career to date. In September, Que would step forward with the fine (but apparently overlooked) "No Fear No Man" set for ReggaeLand Productions (which still gets better every time I spin it) which would go on to be one of the best albums of the year in my opinion and that was the second time that had happened for him. Earlier in the year, the artist delivered the downright SPECIAL "Meditation Time" for 149 Records and the Babyclone Band from out of France. Today we take a look and listen back to the first of what would become a pair of GREAT albums from Anthony Que in 2012 and REWIND! "Meditation Time" by Anthony Que.

Album Teaser

#1. 'Chosen One'

"I am from
I am from
I'm from the cradle of civilisation"

'Chosen One' opens the "Meditation Time" album and it institutes a joyous brand of meditation in its time as Anthony Que delivers a track which not only instills quite a bit of pride in someone's history and lineage, but also a great deal of positive humility. I LOVE this song and I might even go as far as to say that it has become my absolute favourite song here, but even if it hasn't, I am confident that there does not exist a combination of words in any language on this planet or any other which could convince me that this isn't a great song in every way. Huge message. Huge vibes. Huge sound. HUGE tune and a lasting signature moment from this project.

#2. 'Freedom Train'

Things don't stop or stoop it all when 'Freedom Train' rolls in which, like the opener, is another selection which I so enjoy ed from the very first spin through, but I enjoy even more these days, a few months on. Here, Que mixes in a very clever and twisting social commentary with the stamp of the song being this train rapidly coming to take the righteous away from the nastiness.

'Well it take a revolution for you to set the people free?
I know that my Jah Jah rather - for us to live in love and unity
I want to plant my own plantation
I want to plant my own vineyard
I see the mark of the beast is here -
It's on their bank chips and their computer cards" 

#3. 'Ease Up The Pressure'

'Ease Up The Pressure' is definitely another mighty and signature piece from "Meditation Time" and it draws on one of the finest tracks from 149 Records, the Datta Riddim. Everything here is HEAVY and Que actually puts together a song which sounds like something maybe from Achis Reggae favourite, Ziggi Recado, but at the same is wholly of his own special blend as well. This was full on social commentary and you might call it somewhat bleak (and you'd be correct in my opinion), but there is something in here which, at least to my ears, which well provides the listener with just a bit of hope and possibility in that struggle.

#4. 'Ghetto Youth'

One of the things that I so much enjoyed and still enjoy about "Meditation Time" is just how so incredibly well put-together that it is. What I mean, particularly, is that there is no stop along this journey that isn't something better than good for me. 'Ghetto Youth' is the perfect example of that. It may or may not stand out in your tastes as much as the other, but its sound isn't one which leaps out at you - but it is a completely brilliant effort from Que and company.

#5. 'Ghetto Dub'

The first of a couple of Dubs on the album and uses the previous tune as its 'subject'. Never have been the biggest Dub head in the world (although I find myself becoming more so as I get… really, really old). I do favour the second Dub more, but this was golden and if they wanted to, at some point, take care of the other thirteen songs in a similar way - I won't be complaining.

#6. 'Hold On' featuring Queen Omega
Queen Omega
When I first listened to this album and for several spins afterwards, 'Hold On' stood out as my favourite song and it probably still does (I've been listening to 'Chosen One' and another song here pretty much continuously for quite some time now - I think that song, particularly, could help a lot of people if it got the opportunity). Of course, a great part of that is that it includes one of the most talented individuals currently blessing Reggae music with their presence, the incomparable Trini Reggae Empress, Queen Omega. There is nothing about this tune which is not GREAT. Not 'good' or 'solid' or 'nice' or some of my other well used adjectives, it is a GREAT which comes through on a inspirational vibe and 'holds itself' to such a high standard as you would expect between two highly skilled artists. 

"I'm as firm, as firm as…
Firm as the Rock of Gibraltar
I'm like the walls around Jerusalem
Mountains around Ethiopia
The more you persecute me, is the more I grow stronger
I unleash my pain on you
Oh I unleash my anger!"

#7. 'Meditation Time'

The album's title track continues a stretch of genius which traces back to the nascence (I LOVE that word) of the record and with it, it brings, arguably, the most well known track 149 has ever done, the GORGEOUS Speaker Riddim. I've come into this wonderful state of reverence of this song which I now find as being SO ambitious, yet so straight-forward (if that's possible) (and it probably is not). If I say a song is a 'call to action' typically what I mean is that the artist is saying for people to get up and do things to make a change, but here -- I guess -- Que is also making a call to action, but the "action" he is calling for  is to sit down and think about things! Where I've taken that, previously and by extension, is that he's saying for everyone to slow down and take things easy and more carefully before pursuing your next step and I'm still at that point, but I've added something to it. What I get now from this song is that after you've done these things, after you've come into this "time" of meditation and this awakening - do whatever you feel like doing! Proceed in the way you feel best proceeding. If it is carefully then so be it. If it is passionately or freely, that's great also. What Que ultimately seems to be suggesting you 'achieve' in the 'Meditation Time' is this grand sense of awareness and EDUCATION (WHAT!) (you begin to meditate and come out on the 'other end' smarter?!) (WHAT!) (BOOM!).

"I love Mother Nature
SHE teaches me about life
Natural energy from the sun teaches me about life
I want to learn about the universe, there must be other worlds -
Created by God
Created by God!" 

If you do that and you receive what is taught to you. Then the next step and however you get there is clear in Que's eyes. MASSIVE song.

#8. 'Survive'

I definitely wanted to pay a special chunk of attention to 'Survive' because I don't think that I gave it as much credit for being as good as it was as it deserved in the review. It is (like everything else on this album) excellent. First of all, the riddim on this song is one of the strongest that I hear on the entire album and Anthony Que uses it to give us a song which really just taps into a great deal of emotions. The song's title fairly explains what you're going to expect here in terms of direction - it's a song about maintaining oneself and being determined throughout the journey of life - but it won’t reveal the… I don't even know what to call it. There's just a powerful vibes attached to this tune where it draws out passion. It makes you smile (especially at the chorus, which outstanding) and RESPECT what is going on here. I RESPECT THIS SONG!  By its end, you have a composition which is fully dynamic and engaging and striking and just a MAMMOTH song and one which I hope is revealing more and more of itself to listeners on every listen - just like me. Don't miss this. 

#9. 'Word of Wisdom'

I was under the impression, and it apparently has turned out to be the case (I'm actually correct maybe twice a year), that 'Word of Wisdom' which is (missing an s) an amazing song, would go largely underappreciated and underexposed. On an ALBUM which carries those same traits, that's a pretty tough set of circumstances, but for everyone who really dug into this one, it was such a rewarding and fulfilling piece on "Meditation Time". This song had a very COOL feeling about it, but it said and did so much in that mood. 

"I have understanding and power given to me by The Holy King Of Kings
HE leadeth me in the path of justice
I was here from the beginning of time
By eternity I was so divine -
With the words of justice"

#10. 'Herb of Life'

Que's 'Herb of Life' was one beautiful ganja song which definitely had an ear towards a more social type of circle. You get these songs which kind of either celebrate the herb and its magnificence OR they speak on how maligned it has become in unfortunate sections of society, but 'Herb of Life' was a piece which very much had its feet in both arenas. Plus, it was a lovely song all the way through, but especially in its latter stages where, despite its very straight forward sound, it just… MELTS into this dynamic mix of scintillating Roots Reggae (more on that later). Furthermore, I also like how, in the middle of the tune, Que seems to go out of his way to make the direction of the tune crystal clear (as if there were any question) and in doing so gives the album one of its signature lyrics, when he says: 

"We tried to hide it so far in the mountain
Still your police and soldiers give us problems
The chalice smoke surround me like the clouds
I can hear the sirens shouting out loud

#11. 'Shootout'

As its title would suggest, 'Shootout' is an anti-violence piece… even though it doesn't sound like it. As a track, and track alone, the riddim behind this song is golden and it does very interesting things in its lifespan. As for the song itself, what I so much enjoy of this one, firstly, is just how open it is. It is a sung song (WHAT!), but it has this kind commentary type of sound on it, almost like a narration of a story or something like that, but that is not at all what it is. Instead, it exists as this brilliantly arranged and creative 'put down the gun' type of selection which, at least in some aspect, could be looked upon as a changeup on the album as opposed to the more obvious choice at #14. An excellent song.

#12. 'Come Come'

Talking about surprises -- How unexpected is it that in a year where we received full albums from the likes of Beres Hammond (a double), Glen Washington, Cocoa Tea and Lloyd Brown - all masters of the subgenre - and Alaine (2013???), the greatest thing to happen to Lover's Rock music in a really loooooooong time, remained very active, the single finest love song I heard came from Anthony Que?! 'Come Come' was… something far stronger than just "great". It was an exquisitely vibed love song which was completely seamless. It was forced at all and it almost seemed as if, at points at least, Que never really even bothered to write a song and just stepped in the studio and said what was on his mind over a riddim. Surely that wasn't the case (well it may've been), but whatever he did, it was a master class of a track and one which, at least in my opinion, has yet to be equaled in 2012 for what it was. 

#13. 'Dub Coming'

The riddim track on 'Come Come' is outstanding and it gets the Dub treatment on 'Dub Coming' which I also love and between the two, I've well spent hours (HAPPY ONES) completely lost in this giant of a love song.  

#14. 'Roots Man Skanking'

As I mentioned a few songs ago, 'Roots Man Skanking', ostensibly, is THE definitive changeup on "Meditation Time", but it isn't really much of such a song in the traditional 'strength' of the word. This song not at all reaches outside of the scope of the thirteen pieces preceding it and, in fact, it even builds on at least pieces of it - this time in the celebration of the music. 

"Music is all I've got to give
And that is what I give to the people"

#15. 'It's Another Day'

And “Meditation Time" reached its conclusion in the arms of a song which I've grown to appreciate just a bit more than I initially did, 'It's Another Day'. I still (and likely always will) find it somewhat folksy (because it is), but that doesn't make it any less significant and, I suppose in terms of how it ultimately does sound, it adds to the 'experience' of the song. The message here is a great deal of that experience as Que basically says to 'enjoy the moment' and to make the best of each and every moment that you can. It is somewhat, but I take it back to the title track and what he seems to be saying is that whatever your life is - do it!

"Let life take you where it wants"

Listening to it now, I can definitely say that one of the major points of attraction to this album is that, along with its heavy messages and great writing, this record is probably one of the most DYNAMIC and sonically pleasing Roots Reggae albums of the year. As I've said in the past, so many times the subgenre is looked upon as being this type of template-based and unchanging style, but here is an album which isn't so greatly standing outside many of its peers, in terms of its sound, on the surface, but it the music is ENTERTAINING throughout and I'd think it would be so for new and old fans alike. It's very cleverly accessible and while I don't think so many new fans will or have already found their way to this album, the older fans who have, have found a WONDERFUL release from Anthony Que. It did not seemed to have gotten much in the way of fanfare and discussion, but I think it's easily one of the greatest albums of 2012. So if you haven't already, definitely check out a possible future modern classic (now wondering exactly why I didn't make this one a 5/5) - "Meditation Time" by Anthony Que.

See original review

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