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Thursday, April 15, 2004



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"Rearrange Your Positive"
Ooklah the Moc (Ghetto Circus Records)



Positive thinkin’

Reggae band's CD was released
late but it is worth the wait


Even though the local reggae band had originally hoped this album would've been out about a year-and-a-half ago, I say better late than never. Fans of Ooklah the Moc (including yours truly) have been rewarded with a top-notch collection of originals. "Rearrange Your Positive" might've had a longer-than-expected gestation period, but the wait's been worth it.

With invaluable studio help by Wendell Ching, the nine-piece band attack their music with a boldness that is positively riveting -- a sometimes aggressive approach to what's typically considered a laid-back music as performed by the bulk of local reggae and Jawaiian bands.

Ooklah the Moc is so confident in the power of its musicianship. The band members have taken the authentic reggae sound to heart, and it shows.

While the chemistry in the band is noteworthy, kudos should especially be handed out to the band's core rhythm section of Jah Gumby and Barracus (Ryan Murakami and John Davis, respectively), and the equally powerful horn duo of Tony Bush and Gary Nakano.

Their inventive arrangements range from either laying down a rock-solid riddim or pushing the envelope by inserting the occasional quick, rhythmic breakdown. The proof's in the album's two instrumentals, "At Attack" and "Arena Rock," the latter showcasing some astute guitar work by Killer P (Asher Philippart -- by the way, Ooklah's other guitarist, Nick Sayada, has been replaced by keyboard player Brad Weis).

The icing on the Ooklah cake is the band's fine line of vocalists, Ras Bird LaPierre, Micky Huihui and Kali Navales. Whether as soloists or as background harmonizers, it's these folk that gives voice to the band's dedication to the true spirit of the red, green, black and gold.

Vocal highlights include the straight-talking "Hawaiian Man" ("your head just above water/no bother with no Babylon"), Huihui's female voice floating over a rhythmically tricky "Lovers Rock," and the passionate declaration of "In This Time."



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