Album Review: Gondwana - Carpe Diem
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band is more than a good reason to release a new album. In the course of these 30 years this band has rewritten musical history. The Chilean group Gondwana are not only one of the first reggae bands from the Latin American continent (founded in 1987), they have made a serious impact on the development of Reggae in the Spanish-speaking world. Their list of songs, which have delighted thousands of listerners over the years is long: Alabanza, Felicidad, Mi Princesa, Smile Souling, Libros Sagrados and Antonia are only a few of their greatest hits to mention. Currently, the band have eight members including I-Locks Labbé, leader and founder of Gondwana, on the bass and MC Jona as the main vocalist.
Carpe Diem is the name of their 8th studio album that has just been released in May 2017. Recorded between December 2016 and March 2017 in Chile, produced mainly by I-Locks Labbé and further bandmembers themselves, the album was mastered by the Grammy Award Winner Carlos Laurenz and comes with eight new tracks plus two dub versions and an acoustic version. It also presents a couple of promising collaborations.
As the album's title, Carpe Diem, may suggest, this collection of songs has a positive message. It follows the concept of consciousness, romance, and the fulfillment of life through joy and connection. Dealing with the topic of love also plays a big part in the music of Gondwana. Thus, almost all the songs in the album are love song with their own distinct ways (Si No Fuera, Susurro, Quemando Tu Pecho, Carpe Diem, Amor Sin Fronteras, Suave Pero Intenso).
In terms of music, Gondwana fusion the classic Spanish Reggae one drop sound with Latin and pop music. It does not come across as too strong. It is not too rootsy, nor too fast. It could be described with the Spanish world 'tranquilo', which means chilled, easy, or relaxed. Wonderful instrument sections (horns, guitars, keys and more) create such satisfying mood.
The single Si No Fuera [If There Wasn’t] is one of the songs characterized by one specific instrument: the soft Spanish guitar makes it more of a Latin than a Reggae song. The Latin influence can also be felt through the devoted words of the vocalist, who sings about not being able to live without his love. Si No Fuera has been out since February and is currently circulating in Latin American radio stations, music charts and international video platforms. It is the very first song of the album and its acoustic version stands at the end of the tracklist. Thus, Si No Fuera creates the frame of the album.
Coming back to the collaborations in Carpe Diem, the most interesting one is certainly with Ky-Many Marley. Ky-Mani and Gondwana know each other since the early 2000; they shared many stages around the globe and are on tour together right now. The song called We Push Away Good Memories is the only English-titled song and falls out of the line of Latin Roots songs in the album, not only because of the language feature. We Push Away Good Memories is a musical fusion of reggae and a poprythm of the 90s, much like the style of the British band UB40. Besides Marley, the song has also guest vocals of the Jamaican-US singer Matthew Jacquette, who is a musician in the Latin band Bachaco. His voice could be heard in the title track, and he has been part of other Gondwana songs in the past. We Push Away Dub Memories - the dub version of this song is also very recommended. Amor Sin Fronteras [Love Without Boundaries] is another collaboration. It features Jorge Aníbal 'Perro Viejo' Serrano, a US–Argentinian rock musician from the band Los Auténticos Decadentes and the founder of the well-known Todos Tus Muertos.
Besides all the Latin influences, you’ll find a pretty stimulating Reggae beat on Suave Pero Intenso [Soft But Intense] and a rockish electric guitar section in Susurro [Whisper] and an uptempo skaish rhythm in Quemando Tu Pecho [Burning Chest].
Carpe Diem is a lovely music album with some catchy songs and pretty melodies through which an uplifting atmosphere is transmitted. It will hardly catch the success Gondwana had experienced in their prime when the charismatic singer and composer Quique Neira was still a member of Gondwana. His leaving the band in 2003 was a setback from which the band is yet to recover. Nevertheless, this new production is a blessing for everyone interested in international reggae and Gondwana will always be recognized as one of the greatest Latin American reggae bands.
Gondwana - Carpe Diem
DIGITAL RELEASE [FYN S.A.]
Release date: 05/05/2017
01. Si No Fuera
02. We Push Away Good Memories feat. Ky-Mani Marley & Matthew Jacquette
04. Quemando Tu Pecho
05. Carpe Diem feat. Matthew Jacquette
06. Amor Sin Fronteras feat. Jorge Serrano
07. Suave Pero Intenso
08. No Es el Fin
09. We Push Away Dub Memories feat. Ky-Mani Marley & Matthew Jacquette (Dub Version)
10. Susudub (Dub Version)
11. Si No Fuera (Versión Acústica)