10 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The St. Croix–based roots outfit Midnite is almost frighteningly prolific, having made more than 40 full-length albums since its debut (the proudly lo-fi Ras Mek Peace) appeared in 1999. Still more surprising than Midnite’s formidable work ethic is the remarkably consistent quality of its output. Each release is firmly based in the rhythms and textures of classic roots reggae, particularly the heavily percussive, deeply devotional style known as Nyabinghi. Yet the group is eclectic enough to embrace an array of other styles. Be Strong’s title track, for example, opens with a hypnotic cascade of arpeggiated thumb piano. That gives way to a complex polyrhythmic arrangement that owes as much to the desert blues of Malian virtuosos like Ali Farka Touré as it does to classic reggae. “Dirt and Clay” combines a classic steppers’ rhythm with violin flourishes, folksy guitar, and a militant brass arrangement. Midnite’s willingness to incorporate such diverse elements into its work makes it one of the most compelling contemporary roots acts, and Be Strong is one of its most intriguing recent releases.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The St. Croix–based roots outfit Midnite is almost frighteningly prolific, having made more than 40 full-length albums since its debut (the proudly lo-fi Ras Mek Peace) appeared in 1999. Still more surprising than Midnite’s formidable work ethic is the remarkably consistent quality of its output. Each release is firmly based in the rhythms and textures of classic roots reggae, particularly the heavily percussive, deeply devotional style known as Nyabinghi. Yet the group is eclectic enough to embrace an array of other styles. Be Strong’s title track, for example, opens with a hypnotic cascade of arpeggiated thumb piano. That gives way to a complex polyrhythmic arrangement that owes as much to the desert blues of Malian virtuosos like Ali Farka Touré as it does to classic reggae. “Dirt and Clay” combines a classic steppers’ rhythm with violin flourishes, folksy guitar, and a militant brass arrangement. Midnite’s willingness to incorporate such diverse elements into its work makes it one of the most compelling contemporary roots acts, and Be Strong is one of its most intriguing recent releases.

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