Superlative Synth Sounds
Jamaica is known for the endlessly creative permutations of its music, from ska to dub to dancehall. But there are things about the Island’s musical culture that remain hidden. For instance, American country music is way popular there and one of its finest young and up-and-coming music groups is a forward-looking band fusing hip hop with new-wave flavored dance music.
They’re called Acmatic. The name means the best, the most, the superlative. It reveals the group’s ambition — something that’s also reflected in the breadth and adventurousness of their glowing, synth drenched debut Sundial.
Their sound isn’t completely divorced from Jamaican musical history, but at times it seems to be remixing it while throwing open the doors to a host of influences. It’s hard to tell though, because Jamaican music itself has had such far reaching influence. The dub tradition makes itself known on the album in a subtle, globally minded way. “Big Talk From the General” is a hip hop track with a Brit Pop streak and a dub sensibility — you could compare it to Gorillaz, or, say, Massive Attack. “The Power” is less on the hip hop tip and more on some crazy David Bowie does triphop kind of tip. Meanwhile tracks like “Audio as if it was the 80′s” and “Whistle While You Walk” are like Toro y Moi turned hip hop producer.
Initially, the group was somewhat mysterious to us, but since then the picture’s been coming in clearer and clearer. The group has grown from three to seven strong, with vocalist/emcee King Lopo out in front. And since the release of Sundial, they’ve been spinning a strange and complex mythology around a figure known only as Plateface — see the videos for “The Power” and “Silver Nimbus.”
It seems the more we find out about them, the more mysterious they become. We look forward to more mystery from them and more jams like their latest “OK.” It’s better than okay.
Photo courtesy of Acmatic/Credit Randy Richards