Geoman reggae music CD album mp3
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Geoman (I Grade, 2003)

Midnite Branh I is an offshoot of Midnite formed by iconic Midnite lead singer Vaughn Benjamin and fellow St. Croix musicians Phillip Merchant and Dion Hopkins.  Geoman is their second album, after 2002's The Cipheraw, which I have not heard,  but if it's anything like this album (and I'm pretty sure it is), it has a striking, unique sound.  I often wonder why members of musical groups sometimes "branch" off into a solo or other group project only to produce material that mirrors that of their original group (see Apple Gabriel), but not so with Geoman.  While Midnite can drift into the experimental at times, Midnite Branch I seems to be the testing ground to take those experiments to a whole other level.  Geoman is an audio laboratory where Benjamin and company concoct quirky, edgy, challenging music that tests the boundaries of this art form called reggae.  Indeed, of the 15 songs here, barely half feature what you would call a "standard" roots rhythm (including a couple of Nyabinghi drum tracks).  Not coincidentally, these are the songs that I preferred and are likely the ones that Midnite fans will find most appealing -- notably the funky "People Iz I," the solid (though perhaps too typically Midnite) "Crown Aim," and the catchy Nyabinghi freestyle flow of "Jah in Dem," featuring two members of the Star Lion Family.  Still, there's something to be said for some of the more avant-garde tunes, which tend to sound like some sort of somber, smoky jazz/funk fusion, with tranquil strings, thick organs, and slightly off-beat drums.  "M Street" and "Nachral," for instance, eventually grew on me, while "Powaz ov Weed" and "The Valyou" (Hooked on Phonics anyone?), which blend the gloomy jazz with a slightly more typical reggae sound, prove to be atmospheric and impactful.  However, Geoman is not an easy listen, and for most people, several of the concoctions will likely do little more for you than furrow your brow.  "Feel" and "Poze Arf" are lethargic and plodding, "All Are U" is discordant and spastic, and "Plureal" sounds like an unwelcome throwback to the beat poetry days.  Still, if you're a big enough Midnite fan (like me), there's enjoyment to be had from Geoman; if you're new to the group, however, make sure to go for a more conventional Midnite release first rather than their quirky cousin Midnite Branch I.

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Track Listing
1. Crown Aim
2. M Street
3. Powaz ov Weed
4. All Are U
5. People Iz I
6. The Valyou
7. Nachral
8. Plureal
9. Jah in Dem featuring Dread Ites and Pressure
10. Known
11. Up Together
12. Doan Daly
13. Feel
14. Poze Arf
15. Inight
Geoman
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Project III reggae music CD album mp3
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Project III (Natural Vibes, 2003)

*GUEST REVIEW*
For several years now, Midnite's albums have staked out an increasingly unorthodox -- sometimes eccentric -- sound. So one might expect this offering from Midnite Branch I, the band's even more experimental offshoot, to be somewhat strange even by Midnite's standards. Instead, Project III cultivates a surprisingly conventional and extremely listenable sound that should please both traditional roots fans and avant-garde aficionados. The first three songs shine with particular brilliance, especially "Make Manifest." Built around the eloquent dialogue between Adalai Sutton's saxophone and Vaughn Benjamin's keyboards, "Make Manifest" would be a highlight on any Midnite album. "Justify," while slightly more subdued, features an equally seductive interplay of sax and keyboards. The rest of the album, while not as immediately arresting, maintains a consistently appealing groove, overflowing with positive vibrations. Unlike some Midnite albums, this one is very accessible, even to casual fans. Every song is lovingly crafted and rewards repeated listening. Natural Vibes, a boutique reggae label based in Brockton, Massachusetts, has made an essential contribution to the Midnite catalogue. Check them out at www.naturalvibes1.com.

- Reggie 

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Track Listing
1. Inner Queenly
2. Make Manifest
3. Justify
4. Holding On To
5. The Law
6. Bling Scene
7. M Ah W & Z Ah N
8. Wa Dem a Do (Pollen)
9. Ainshant
10. Teach Root Each Root
11. Humble
12. Soon Is
13. Permit Zion
14. What Will I Give
15. Feedin Een
Project III
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