14 Dec 2018
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Three Islands - Album Review: Sunshine for the Soul

01 Dec 2017 // A review by Peter-James Dries

While I admit I am usually somewhat resistant to exploring outside my chosen genre, though often reluctantly do so, I was surprised to find I had no issue getting into this album - once I finally convinced myself to start it.

The Three Islands album Sunshine for the Soul are to Funk and Soul, what Jakob are to Rock. Post-Reggae. Psyche-Dub-ic. Progressive Roots. In a word, revolutionary. The smooth licks, flowing riffs, and tight fills aren’t the portrait, they are the canvas on which the moods are built.

Expecting a run-of-the-mill Reggae/Dub affair, what I instead found was the ultimate Kiwi summer, condensed into an album. While some would argue these are the same thing, this album is different. One you put on while you barbeque your snags. This album is the barbeque, the snags, the mozzies and your drunk uncle smoking on the porch.

The titles are almost onomatopoeia. I don’t know how, but Jason Peters has somehow managed to bottle the vibe of Golden Bay, the essence of Driving to the Coast, the spectacle of Flying Above the Southern Alps, and the ambience of a Mainstreet Café into the tracks held beneath the titles. As interpretive dance is the embodiment of the music, these tracks are reactions and reflections of all these elements of the sunny life on our three islands.

Maybe it’s a side effect of watching Whiplash on Netflix, but I really noticed the drum work. Drummers will argue there is artistry and musicianship in all of their work, but for the most part, I hear a lot of glorified metronomes. In this genre, these genres, as this work fits into many, there is room to be expressive in the drum work, and that stands out on the album.

Were the Jason Peters name stapled all over this release, this would be a collection of Jazz standards, or another Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits. A vehicle for stardom.

But it isn’t. I don’t even remember reading a bio. So instead Sunshine for the Soul is exactly how it plays out. A collection of distilled sunshine made solely for your enjoyment. Songs without the pretence of fast lines, punchlines and story, innuendo and entendre to decipher, or a cult of personality to follow. There is no message and agenda. Just a feeling. Enjoyment.

And in a way, by making an album of enjoyable music without hype or lyrics, Jason has shown off his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, not relegated to a single style or genre. A musician, not just a poster boy for Hip Hop.

Perhaps it’s the unseasonably windless Wellington sunshine, which has persisted this past week, or perhaps I’ve grown as an adult, but I have really appreciated this album, nay, art piece, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s see if it holds up when the winds return.

 

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In this world of instant gratification, something can be said about a song that can make you feel, even if that feeling is longing. Longing, usually a feeling with negative connotations, is something you miss out on when you can binge watch an entire show or listen to a musician’s whole discography.
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