Review: Memoria - Startline EP
Welcome the Rasta Youth!
The next generation of Reggae musicians are on their way straight to your stereo system and your heart. The boys and girls, aged between 15 and 20, form the band Memoria and in their home town of Cologne, they have already made a mark for themselves through many regular live performances over the past 5-6 years. Memoria, which consists of the two brothers Inti and Chaski, Emil, René, and Rafael, and the sisters Greta, Eva and Alma, have a mixture of ethnic backgrounds from Peru, Chile, and Venezuela as well as Germany.
Startline is Memoria's debut EP and a long-awaited output. Three years have passed since the band started to record the tunes for this EP; they have reworked and optimized it over and over again until now—the band is entirely satisfied with its creation. Augusto Stahlke, booker and friend of the band, recorded and edited most of the songs, and producer Guido Craveiro, who is well-known for his work with Dellé, Seeed and Dub Inc., did the mixing and the mastering for Startline. The EP is released on Stahlkes’ label Cesaraugusto.
Startline comes with seven songs; each of them in a totally different style. There is the roots aspect in Royal Soldiers, the dub in Babylon, Latin sounds in Lucha Conmigo, and Just Wine is a combination of two distinct, but actually very similar genres: dancehall and reggaeton. Artistic diversity also enters the level of content in Startline. The lyrics vary from idealistic ideas of fighting for a better world (Babylon, Lucha Conmigo) and ganja praises (Legalize My Mary) to fun-orientated party talk (Just Wine, Celebration).
As the EP presents all these different styles, you may question the concept of this release—the common thread connecting all of the songs, but you won’t find it until you understand the key philosophy of this band. By paying more attention to the opening and the title track, Startline, you will already find the answer! It starts with an intro—a speech by an elderly woman—it is the voice of Inti and Chaski's grandmother, who is speaking to the listener in the indigenous language of Peru, Quechua. She says: “In this world of suffering, hate, and discrimination, there is this group named Memoria that—despite all the trouble that is taking place—remind us to laugh, to dance, and to emerge from the shadows. It’s the time of the light and the time to be happy again without ever ignoring and neglecting the pain of this world. That’s what we need!” Representing a conscious and responsive lifestyle, without taking everything too seriously—that is Memoria, and that is the concept of this EP. As the intro speech fades out, the single instruments start blazing one after one, warming up the reggae atmosphere until a party tune starts—an introduction to Memoria—an anthem of themselves, going: “That’s Memoria sound, number one inna the town […], we are the Champion sound […]”.
Following the order of the tracklist, the next one is Royal Soldiers, a one drop-tune with wonderful horn sections and very emotional vocals by the singer, who praises everyone living and acting in the name of love. It addresses the youth and encourages them to define, in their own independent terms, what they want to be in life. “Youth, build your own future and be your own ruler!” Singer and composer Inti, who is 20 years old now, wrote these lyrics at the age of 14 or 15.
Legalize My Mary is number three in the set. It’s a classic ganja tune—the type of song that, apparently, every Reggae band needs in its repertoire. The prohibition of the herb is an ever-present issue.
Babylon is a more spiritual song. On a dubby melody, the singer expresses his anger on the subject of building walls all over the world as this will only lead to separation and injustice. The singer repeats his line, “Burn down the Babylon walls”, over and over again, pleading for the message to be heard. The echo-effect of the backing vocals support and melt with the singers preaches.
The next song takes up the subject of “longing-for-a-better-world” from the previous song. Lucha Conmigo is a song in Spanish and shows yet another face of the band's great potential and language skills. It takes the listener on a journey to a land where the vicious circle of poverty, crime, and corruption dominates the landscape. The hook, when translated into English, goes: “I tell you, raise your hand and fight by my side! Let’s change this world. Let’s smash down this corrupt world.”
Lucha Conmigo is followed by Just Wine, a song that challenges the listener to perform a quick switchover, in their musical temper. What we find in Just Wine is a modern, RDX - Kotch-inspired-kind-of-dancehall song, auto-tuned and made for the dancefloor. Unexpected, but interesting is the changeover to a reggaeton beat á la Daddy Yankee after the first minute and the combination of English and Spanish lyrics, fused into one big international party tune.
Celebration is the last song in Startline. It catches the party vibe of Just Wine and keeps on driving down the dancehall road. Here, the band like to prove to everyone how they mash up their hometown Cologne when they are out on a partynight. With some mixing in of a steel drum sound, they bring the Caribbean ease straight to Germany.
With this debut release, Memoria is taking a big step away from being the youth band next door towards becoming a well-respected band of serious musicians. Yet, the use of the instruments could be a little edgier and bolder instead of being too clean. Memoria fans will recognize most of the songs from the band's live performances. But most definitely, we will be hearing a lot more from this young band in our future. As the EP’s title indicates, this is just the beginning.
Memoria - Startline EP
DIGITAL RELEASE [Cesaraugusto Music]
Release date: 05/19/2017
02. Royal Soldiers
03. Legalize My Mary
05. Lucha Conmigo
06. Just Wine