Raver Reviews: Akae Beka's 'Homage To The Land' | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver Reviews: Akae Beka’s ‘Homage To The Land’

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On Homage To The Land, the debut album by Akae Beka, Vaughn Benjamin forges a new path with a familiar sound.  This most recent Vaughn Benjamin/Fifth Son collaboration has the signature high quality production, however with a more refined sound than previous efforts.

On February 5, 2015 Midnite arrived at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC on their 25th anniversary tour.  As the crowd inside the Howard waited patiently to welcome the band back to DC, someone came on with an announcement.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, Vaughn Benjamin could not take the stage.  What no one could have known at the time, was that the most revered, influential and prolific reggae act in two decades would never take the stage again.  It was a fitting way to end their journey, in the very same town in which it had begun in earnest twenty years earlier.

The reggae world was introduced to the the Akae Beka on July 18, 2015 when Vaughn Benjamin took the stage with his band at a Denver show to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day.  Akae Beka features faces familiar to Midnite fans:  Edmund Fieulleteau and Kenny Byron on guitars; Ras L on bass; Suren Fenton on keys; and the always deadly Sly Molina-Curet on drums and percussion.

The sound was tight and heavy as Benjamin chanted into “Flow Like Rhyme”/”Roll Call.”  However, all of the spirit, energy, and unbridled joy that Ron Benjamin once brought to the stage was now gone.  It is a huge loss and one which fundamentally transforms the new band.  This was not Midnite, nor was it Midnite-lite.  This was something altogether different.


The mysterious name the band chose consists of two words grounded in ancient mysticism.  Both are mentioned in the Book of Enoch, a group of religious writings penned by Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.  Akae Beka is a reference to two oaths taken by the angel Kasbeel, a watcher angel of the grigori, the first angels placed on Earth to watch and protect humanity.  The first oath, Biqa, revealed all the secrets of the heavens to man.  The second oath was Akae. This oath revealed the secrets of the cycles of earth.

Akae Beka’s debut album Homage To The Land, released by Fifth Son/VPAL on November 6, 2015, was viewed by some to be the second incarnation of Midnite.  On the album Vaughn Benjamin brings his unique brand of reggae with strong orchestral and jazz elements – an agile, buoyant, multi-layered sound characteristic of Fifth Son productions.  Benjamin’s chant and call is backed by mandolins (“All We Be”), violins (“Right Away”), flutes (“World Citizenship”), and a whole host of brilliantly-played horns, including trombones, trumpets, and a wicked bari sax (“Homage To The Land”).  The playing on the album is nearly flawless.  The Fifth Son players are methodical and precise on guitars, nimbly picking apart each tune with exactness and command.


Homage To The Land is a laudable debut effort for Vaughn Benjamin under the Akae Beka moniker.  As players of instruments the band is in top form as they construct a ten song set that should satisfy even the most devout and discerning of Midnite fans.  Although the band experiments with an assortment of new instruments, the album’s sound does not become buried nor does the album sound overproduced.  A solid album from start to finish and proof yet again that Vaughn Benjamin is one of reggae’s most dynamic talents.

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