Raver Reviews: Noel Ellis Meets Roberto Sanchez inna Zion showcase stylee | MIDNIGHT RAVER
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Raver Reviews: Noel Ellis Meets Roberto Sanchez inna Zion showcase stylee

Noel Ellis Meets Lone Ark:  Zion is the first of Iroko Records’ Showcase series featuring reggae roots singer and son of reggae legend Alton Ellis on tracks produced by the multi-talented Roberto Sanchez and Hervé Brizec of Lone Ark Productions out of Santander, Spain.  It is the latest collaborative effort for Sanchez whose work with the likes of Milton “King Midas” Henry, Earl Sixteen, I-Kong, and Roy Ellis has made him one of the most respected reggae producers in the world.  His collaboration here with Ellis builds upon the strength of his previous projects, making Noel Ellis Meets Lone Ark:  Zion one of his most impressive albums yet.

As a multi-instrumentalist and producer, Sanchez brings a whole host of things to the project, however, it is his profound and abiding reverence for the music of Jamaica that is perhaps his greatest and most valued asset.  Having listened to a lifetime of reggae music as a fan, Sanchez has developed an ear for the music. Roberto Sanchez chooses his projects carefully, working with a select few artists of whom he is a fan.  As evidenced on the Branches and Leaves Showcase, his 2013 collaboration with Milton Henry (and my pick for best  reggae album that year), he is especially adept at crafting riddims with specific artists in mind.  Artists choose to work with him because they are confident in his ability to highlight their best  qualities and, in turn, capture a great vocal performance.

Noel Ellis Meets Lone Ark:  Zion features six densely-produced, bottom-heavy reggae roots riddims in a showcase style.  Ellis, whose dark 1983 Jerry Brown-produced showcase album features the singer over dread-and-dirty melancholic roots riddims, is given room to move by Sanchez who constructed expansive classic roots reggae riddims with a modern sound.  Ellis opens the album strong with an inspiring, almost joyful vocal performance on the quick-stepping “Zion” and dread and terrible on the lowdown and lugubrious “Jah Love.”  He channels the great Leroy Sibbles on tracks like “Herb Stalk” and “I Know,” the former sounding like an outtake from The Heptones Party Time sessions at the Black Ark.  That comparison alone speaks volumes about Ellis’s vocal performance on this album.  Ellis saves his top performance for “Reggae Music,” the album closing rub-a-dub track which best showcases the singer’s range.



Roberto Sanchez is masterful on the mixboard as he deconstructs each riddim to its component parts.  One of the most respected modern reggae producers, Sanchez uses his effects sparingly in order to showcase Ellis’ vocal and to elevate the brilliant instrumentalists behind the tracks.  Sanchez is murderous on the mix for “Jah Dub” as he leans heavily upon echo to enhance the already brilliant hand-drumming which anchors this ceremonial roots track with a serious nyabinghi vibe.  For those who love the foundation sound of reggae, there is plenty to chew on here.  Sanchez is one of those rare individuals who see reggae not as business but a way of life.  He is as authentic as anyone out there doing it right now and it is that authenticity that keeps us coming back for more.

CLICK HERE to read Jah Raver’s 2013 interview with producer Roberto Sanchez of Lone Ark Productions.

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Comments

  1. ubermize says:

    I love his stuff. The Roots Garden Show out of Brighton, England has played his stuff in the past.

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