Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 09:27AM
Attention shoppers, this is not a blue light special, it is a ites green and gold light special!

Milton Henry, who releases music all too rarely, is back with a new album called "Roots and Branches Showcase".

This delightful album is released on Iroko records, which have been known so far as a fledging and top quality reissue label, but who recently jumped in the water and are now releasing new albums. Iroko are not producing music yet but have been licensing content from Roberto Sanchez' Lone Ark label for a few months.

They could not have been better inspired, as Roberto is the freaking best producer of roots reggae and rocksteady in Europe. Remember his superb Alpheus album a year or so ago??? That was him. Roberto Sanchez is operating out of his studio near Santander in the Basque region and is churning out gem after gem.

This time, he has really outdone himself. Branches and Leaves is a superb album. In my personal top 5 of 2013, quite frankly. The album is not easy listening reggae. It is in fact quite austere, severe, sparse.

But don't you get fooled for just one second by such adjectives, because I mean them in a VERY positive way, rather than demeaning. For clarity's sake, I confirm: this album is a stellar piece of work.

Milton Henry is not joking at all when he gives praises to Jah, he is dead serious in his denunciation of the evil Babylon system. Yet at no time does he come across as pontifying, boring, hypocritical. He doesnt stare down at you from his altar of righteousness to deliver an arrogant "holier than thou" message or anything like that. Quite the contrary, he invites you, the listener, to share feelings about life, the human race, the cosmos and God and elevate both your and his mind in the process. Quite a win win proposition, don't you think?

He applies the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle perfectly. He doesn't need to shout or shriek his lyrics. Rather, he phrases his lyrics very quietly, cool and deadly. If you've read thus far, by now, you know you should not expect bashment style in "Roots and Branches". We're talking about meditation, philosophy, letting minds be the best they can be though a powerful exchange. In a way, Milton and Roberto act as some sort of spiritual guides in "Roots and Branches", no less.

Milton's singing is quite introspective: rather than vocal pyrotechnics, he stresses his points simply, calmly, and quite frankly, I think he gets the message across more efficiently this way.

To back up this kind of singer and respect his lyrics, his singing and his overall style, there is no better approach than the one Roberto has chosen. His riddims are very simple, and the mix is very classical, but there is very little reverb, effects, not even any drops in the riddim like we so often hear in other productions. None of that music on steroids! In fact, Roberto and his Lone Ark band have crafted riddims to SERVE the singer. The atmosphere is very clear and nothing detracts Roberto and Milton from their objective. I am quite impressed by what they achieved.

In addition, and that's one of the numerous beauties of this album, the riddims are FAR from being toothless! In fact they rank on a par with the best of what Jamaica used to offer in 1979. No f+cking less. The drummer is a clone of Sly Dunbar, the keyboards and synths are perfect and beautifully arranged, and the horns, man those horns. Lord knows (my good friend and saxman Stepper will attest to that) I dont really dig horns, which are often a substitute for lack of inspiration. But Roberto has found a way to arrange those horns just like they should be sounding like. Melodic, not flashy, yet with a touch of sophistication. PERFECT.

The best thing to do with this album is to listen to it on a badass sound system with, preferably a nice pair of old school speakers. By the way, the vinyl is one of the best sounding vinyls I have ever heard. Huge kudos to Iroko's bossman Herve Brizec for painstakingly looking for the right mastering studio and, as importantly, the right pressing plant. An equally best way to discover the immensely subtle arrangements and really awesome mix options is to use a nice pair of headphones: go ahead, treat yourself to something decent, and throw away those ip$$$d earbuds, they sound like crap (and you know it)!!! If need be, do not hesitate, mug an old lady in the street, "Roots and Branches" deserves nothing less than excellent hifi gear...

F*ck, all of this is movingly beautiful, fulfilling and I felt I needed to testify: Reggae is alive and well. It is now produced out of a remote studio in Santander... and Anchor studios in Kingston where the increasingly last mohicans Sly & Robbie operate. Who would have predicted that 30 years ago????

One last thing, and it is important: please do not compare this beauty with the no less beautiful "Who do you think I am". "Who..." was released some 30-odd years ago, and comparing albums so distant in time is borderline disrespectful to the artist, his producer and his label. Just enjoy the fullness, the beauty, the message, the artwork, the overall quality and the beautiful collective effort of all involved. It f*cking deserves praises, and CUSTOMERS. I do want Roberto and Herve to continue putting out new gems like "Roots and Branches" and they need OUR SUPPORT in the form of Euro bills galore.
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 09:47AM
i cannot wait to get this on the turntable! roberto sanchez's productions are nothing short of spectacular, and i have always loved milton henry.

also enjoyed the spirited review!

m.

* [www.kboo.fm]
* [www.shocksofsheba.podomatic.com]
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 10:10AM
I had the honor of backing the Congos when Milton was singing with Cedric and Watty, and thoroughly enjoyed Milton's warmth, thoughtfulness and vocal talents. Many years later I caught him passing through town singing with Ansel and the Meditations. A talented singer and a wonderful human being. I look forward to hearing his newest works!
jps
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 01:31PM
Album sounds nice. Hopefully this will be available here in the states soon. Here is a link to listen to the tracks.

[www.iroko-records.com]
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 04:53PM
wow, there have been a few threads around here fully livicated to the man Milton Henry......
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 03, 2013 05:06PM
Quote
strikkly
wow, there have been a few threads around here fully livicated to the man Milton Henry......
He's definitely worthy of them. From the roots foundation.


Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 23, 2013 12:27AM




I say... Some Never Plant yet want to Reap,
Be careful, try to look before you leap;
Took a little walk from my Vineyard...
Now I'm all alone..
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 25, 2013 06:29PM
The 12" sounds great, will be picking up the album for sure
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 26, 2013 05:34AM
What are some other releases from Roberto Sanchez?
Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 26, 2013 11:17AM
akee123 -



Re: Milton Henry = Roots and Branches Showcase - new album
October 27, 2013 01:09PM
"What are some other releases from Roberto Sanchez?"

www.loneark.com


Visited Roberto in Santander in 2005 or 2006 and his studio setup and musicians he works with was blowing me away. He is a masterful engineer with many of the tools found in a 70s JA studio. A student of the music, I saw Roberto transition from behind the glass wall to shredding any instrument in the studio with ease. While not completely fluent in English at that time he said he sings in English because that is the authentic way. My bredren who was living in Santander recording with Roberto and I were totally convinced if there was a way to get him and his 5-6 musicians to California the massive here would love it, but it's obviously quite cost prohibitive. SN 2014 would be a perfect showcase . They have enough great material to play as long a set as midnite , and would be AMAZING backing any of the artists they have backed on studio albums and more. Without hype or much promotion lone ark has built an impressive discography and reputation in a small city in northern Spain ( the studio itself is in an ideallic setting , close to the ocean and in a mixed area of pastures and a few homes on the edge of town and the continent) .
I think it would be fantastic to have enough "reggaeholics" build some momentum to make this happen.
Also worth mentioning is Roberto sources the best vinyl pressings that every vinyl head will appreciate, pressed in Germany if I remember correctly. A favorite was the "graduation in Zion " riddim with Kiddus I remake.
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