Sola Rosa seem to be one of those bands that's always been making great music, and forging a sound that has often been imitated but seldom matched. Starting out as the solo project of Andrew Spraggon, Sola Rosa now combines the talents of some of the best local and international musicians to produce their distinctive tunes.
Low and Behold, High and Beyond is their sixth full length album, and that high output and longevity shows through on every track, from the jaunty opener Promise, right through to the album closer, the sultry and smoky Loveless, one of the album highlights.
The standout tracks are the ones featuring LA Mitchell, her voice working well within each song and elevating the music, proving her versatility once again. That said, a couple of the tracks with Spikey Tee also work exceptionally well, his MCing adding a bit of bounce to Rise (The Machine) and a rough texture to I’m Not That Guy.
Percussionist extraordinaire Julien Dyen (OpenSouls, Ladi6) appears on almost every track providing live drums, yet despite his considerable skills on the drum kit, he knows to temper things back here, never showing off as he contributes to the musical melting pot in each song.
The credit for the album really deserves to stand with Andrew Spraggon though. As the creater of Sola Rosa, and the core member, it's his creativity and direction that has delivered on each and every track, and allowed him to draw in such high calibre collaborators.
Low and Behold, High and Beyond has shown that Sola Rosa can continue to make albums that stand out from the crowd, and has set a new standard for them.
Since 1999 Sola Rosa’s Andrew Spraggon has been tantalising listeners with otherworldly aural experiences, honing his craft and taking Sola Rosa from a self-released one man project to fully-fledged live powerhouse along the way. He’s kept good company on the road and in the studio, Sola Rosa counting members of Dimmer, Goldenhorse, Pluto and Sommerset amongst the ranks over the years, not to mention pilfering the best members of Che Fu, King Kapisi and Anika Moa’s bands and tapping the talents of internationally renowned artists like Nathan Haines and Spikey Tee. Add to the mix a succession of highly regarded releases the world over on stunning labels that include household names Ministry of Sound, Guidance, Different Drummer, Stereo Deluxe, and Satellite K, and you’ll see why so many eager ears and heavy-lidded eyes are always fixed to fasten on what Sola Rosa does next.
First coming to local music-lovers’ attention as guitarist and vocalist for angular rock band Cicada in the 90s, over the course of the last 9 years Spraggon has been on the receiving end of a Tui (2001’s 'Solarized'), b-net awards (for 2000’s 'Entrance To Skyway' and 2003’s 'Haunted Out-takes'), and a bevy of other accolades and nominations as Sola Rosa, but there’s little doubt when pressing play on 2009's 'Get It Together' that it is his finest accomplishment to date. Taking in a wide swathe of genres, and walking an ever-erratic line between organic and electronic elements, Sola Rosa’s songs continue to pull off Spraggon’s patented trick of electrifying your ears while ensuring that your feet don’t get confused along the way. Three years in the making, 'Get It Together' is best differentiated from its predecessors by a more beat-driven, direct, dance-demanding sound.
Picking up where the performance-based 'Moves On' album left off in 2005, there’s a sweating, smoking live band at the heart of the new record, made up of long-term members of the Rosa roster - Will Scott (drums), Matt Short (bass), and Ben White (guitar). Spraggon studio sorcery has then come into play, tooling up 'Get It Together' for maximum dancefloor impact, and bolstering the album with a roll-call of vocalists, musicians, and compositional contributors running headlong into Sola Rosa’s sonic stirrings at full force – with vocal cuts from Spikey Tee (best known for his work with Jah Wobble, Bomb The Bass, Mark Rae and on some of Sola Rosa’s finest moments); German globetrotter, poet, and singer Bajka; UK MC Serocee; and emerging Wellingtonian songstress Iva Lamkum. Underpinning these outstanding lyrical performances and further illuminating the album’s instrumentals you’ll find an eclectic batch of collaborators that includes the likes of Victoria Kelly, Julien Dyne, Juse, Scratch 22, Hadyn Godfrey, John Highsted, James Duncan, and Miguel Fuentes (who’s played with Isaac Hayes, George Benson, Grover Washington, Patti La Bell and other luminaries).