"Every year or so, Houston produces an album that deserves to be remembered as a historical document as much as a piece of music… in 2012 Free Radicals' The Freedom Fence can't help but take that honor. Topical in more ways than one, it addresses one of the 21st century's flashpoint issues — borders — in a multitude of languages and genres: Salsa, dub, klezmer, Afrobeat, jazz, blues, rock and rap, among others. It may span the globe, but Freedom Fence doesn't shut out local inner-city gentrification ("Third Ward Not for Sale") and the hospital that has treated so many uninsured local musicians ("Ben Taub Blues")." -- Houston Press
"This album is a musical melting pot that you will want to play on repeat."
- Free Press Houston
Best In Show - Houston Press
GenerAsian Radio discussed the new CD on the air on KPFT
Free Radicals "Every Wall" featured on DemocracyNow!
Free Radicals interviewed on "The Front Row," on KUHF
"Free Radicals," June 15th, Sup Houston?
"Free Radicals Tear Down Fences," June 15 2012 on 29.95
"If There's No Money Involved, That's Fine," June 14th on Houston Press
"Free Radicals Examine Both Sides of The Freedom Fence," June 14th on Houston Press
"Free Radicals – CD Release," June 13, Free Press Houston
Ska's the Limit," June edition of Houston Modern Luxury
-- Older Reviews --
Free Press Houston April 2010
Few if any bands in Houston are as diverse and unique as Free Radicals. Their sound can be described as a jazzy collage of reggae, Latin, funk, punk, soul, hip hop, and maybe even a little bit of Jewish klezmer too but attempting to describe this group's sound is probably futile -- you need to listen to them for yourself. No two people will get the same experience from a Free Radicals show. Some people will be enticed to dance with the Latin grooves, some will bob their heads to the funky percussion, some will listen closely for the next jazzy horn solo. Since almost the mid 90's multicultural diversity is that they have thrived in exploring, winning the Houston Press best Jazz award seven times. They Rock Avant Garden every Wednesday.
Musical reaction to Houston's Free Radicals
By GREG OKUHARA
(College Station, TX) Eagle Staff Writer
Since forming in 1996, Free Radicals has been in a constant state of evolution.
Band members have come, gone, then come back. The band's songs range from jazz to ska to reggae and drum 'n' bass; with some tunes that are a fusion of all of the above.
Drummer Nick Cooper said the idea is to keep the music fresh both for the band and its listeners. And for a band that's active both in musical and political arenas, it's important for Free Radicals to have flexibility when approaching its shows.
"We're always coming at it from different angles," he said. "When somebody joins the band, they are not substituting for somebody who used to be in the band. We don't even play our old material. At all. We're always writing new material. So if you join the band, you're playing parts that you came up with or somebody wrote for you while you are in the band. The material keeps changing.
"The idea is that people are going to come and go, but the project will continue to work. For the people who may have been a full-time member of the band at one time, they can still come back and be a part of it. In any case, the project can continue going and developing."
Just as important to the band as its music is getting involved with various social causes.
During the past few years, Free Radicals has taken part in Halliburton protests, immigrant rights marches and a march supporting Houston janitors. In 1999, the band played for 24 hours without stopping to raise money for Kid Care, a children's health program.
Cooper said Free Radicals didn't form in order to take on support specific political or social causes. The members' first goal was to make fusion music, drawing on influences ranging from African, Indian, jazz and ska backgrounds.
"Over time, we've played so many protests and benefit concerts for so many kinds of causes that the guys in the band have all kind of come together around that," Cooper said. "So when there's an immigrant rights march or there's a anti-war march, people know in community and the people in the band start thinking, 'What can we get together for this?'"
But that doesn't mean the music is overtly political in nature. In fact, Free Radicals music is mainly instrumental. Cooper said unless the members make some sort of statement between songs during a concert, fans probably wouldn't know about the band's views or opinions.
"We're not necessarily there to attack individuals," he said. "We're working musicians who are trying to make money playing music, but at the same time, we're going to constantly give our services for free to all kinds of social causes. Some of the guys in the band before Sept. 11 were kind of apolitical. Then they decided they're anti-war and other things like that. So playing in the band has come to mean that we share some things musically and politically."
Not to be lost in the shuffle is Free Radicals' music.
The band currently is recording its fourth studio album. Unlike the massive collaboration projects for previous albums, Cooper said this time there's a "very solid line-up" of two saxophones, a guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
"We've been playing with the same group of guys more or less for the past two, two and a half years. We've been working on a set of material based around a particular lineup."
Cooper said working and living in a diverse city like Houston has opened many doors for the band to include various international elements to its music.
And with an open-door policy regarding the musicians who can contribute to Free Radicals, it's easy to find people who bring something new to the table.
Cooper said Free Radicals have songs influenced by Indonesian, Brazilian, Latin American and Jewish sounds. Mix in some jazz, funk, ska, dub and reggae, and that'll give people a sampling of Free Radicals music.
"There are threads connecting it all together," Cooper said. "We're not some band trying to do things in this pure form. We're using them to express our ideas. And whether it's a Latin American tune or a Jewish tune, [saxophonist Pete Sullivano] is going to sound like Pete. And when we play with African or Indian musicians, these are people who were brought up with that music. These aren't people who just picked it up a few years ago."
• Greg Okuhara's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's far too easy to dismiss Free Radicals. After all, who are these guys----just a buncha left-wing hippies with a tape recorder, right?
Take a moment to listen to all three Free Radicals CD's chronologically.....well OK, take several moments, because these releases are packed to the gills with music. Each pushes the limit of time available to the breaking point, so all three will take up 3.8 hours of your life. By doing so, however, you will hear a tremendous growth in musicality. These guys are just plain getting better every day. With their newest CD, Aerial Bombardment, drummer Nick Cooper and his cronies eschewed traditional songwriting for more improvisational development, and yet it represents their most cohesive effort yet....
-- Kelly Dean
32 songs, 50 musicians. This shouldn't work but it does amazingly well. This is a fine mix of little bits of various genres. A majority is instrumentals with a nice little groove set by vibes, or keys or gongs.
Reviewed by Max Nova
Houston Press Best CD by Local Musicians Award, 9/23/04
Free Radicals' Aerial Bombardment: This jazzy, funky, hip-hoppity, experimental and dub-centric Houston collective never stays within the boundaries of a particular genre, and that's only one of the things that make them so special. Their third CD, Aerial Bombardment, is a unique masterwork helmed by percussionist Nick Cooper and featuring 50 different musicians and vocalists, mostly from H-tizzle. Though the album is largely instrumental, blues singer Gloria Edwards pops in, as do rappers Zin and Perseph1 and members of the Blackout Poets Collective. Free Radicals introduce some new forms on this one, including capoeira angola-meets-dub remixes and beat collages. With its pulsing angst, it plays like a soundtrack to the revolution.
"Free"'s the order of the day on this 32 song/50 musician compilation covering many different fusions with surprising proficiency.
Houston Press, January 22, 2004
Fifty musicians, dozens of different instruments from every continent on earth, and three and a half years in the making. Eighty minutes of music, comprising 32 songs with titles like "Supreme Order of the Attention Deficit," "Deathbed Orgy" and "The Brass Band Liberation Front." Singing, rapping, chanting and scatting. Rhythms from Brazil, Jamaica, Africa and America. All of it improvised, in locales from S‹o Paulo, Brazil, to Cafe Brasil on Westheimer, and all of it dedicated to the two to seven million civilian victims of American bombs dropped from planes since 1942.
It's Aerial Bombardment, and it could be only a Free Radicals album, and in a way, it could come from only Houston. More so than other towns, we are still a city of big bands and big ideas. There's the Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra, Guy Schwartz's New Jack Hippies collective and this bunch, all still active and all with ideas as large as Tom DeLay's ego.
We're also a town that likes to wing it. Planning isn't our strong suit. It's anathema to the Free Radicals, who make up almost all their music at each and every gig. Aerial Bombardment harvests some of the highlights of these shows. "The general recording method of this album is pretty consistent," says drummer/bandleader Nick Cooper. "There were a couple of tunes done in the studio, but generally the songs are recorded live, edited down, tightly condensed and then chosen from there. Out of a two-hour show, we might end up with ten minutes of edited material. There's a little bit of overdubbing here and there."
With any improvisational band, there's a danger of noodling and musical wankery. Most of this kind of stuff comes across as a great blob of undifferentiated musical protoplasm -- ever shifting, ever throbbing, but never arriving at a destination of any kind. Not so with the Free Radicals, at least the great majority of the time.
Free Radicals vibraphonist Harry Sheppard credits Cooper with keeping the band moving forward. "Most of these bands that play free -- the music doesn't sound like it goes anywhere. Years ago somebody called that stuff nuthouse music. Snake-pitÉPeople walking aroundÉIt's insanity! But Nick does a different thing. It's a time thing, a pulse. We all go around that pulse, and that's about it. There's no restrictions, it goes about anywhere -- sometimes it evolves into the same key, sometimes there's two keys playing opposite each other, and that's interesting, but nobody's doing what he's doing -- keeping that pulse going. If they are doing it, it sounds too organized."
Sheppard says that music begins and ends with the beat. "Most of the time Nick starts playing. Nobody says a word to anybody. He starts playing the beat, [bassist] Theo [Bijarra] come in and builds and builds, and we listen to each other. It tells a story, it goes in this direction, it's always communicating and listening. It's total musical communication. Sometimes it has to be edited out, but most of the time it's very exciting stuff."
Sheppard's right -- about both the "most of the time" bit and the "very exciting stuff." On the negative side, there are parts of Aerial Bombardment that arrive out of nowhere as suddenly as a red wasp at a picnic and disappear just as fast. Then there's the reggae-capoeira "Quilombo Dub," a tune that collapses under the weight of its groove, its ambitious sitar and its Brazilian drum instrumentation. Still, it's merely plodding, a far cry from the nuthouse snake-pit of Sheppard's disdain, and the very next song, the hot and jazzy "Harry Stops the War," picks up the pace considerably and features a nice buildup.
Other highlights include the Coltrane-meets-James Brown summit of "Give It Up or Turn It Loose / Impressions," which finds the band sounding something like Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. And all of the vocals numbers -- be they Edwards's vampy blues on "Eyebrows," the raps of Zin or Perseph, or the spoken-word poetry of Keshia, Equality or Karega -- bring much-needed breaks from all the instrumental onslaughts. In fact, with the multitude of varied styles on the album, Aerial Bombardment feels more like a 40-minute quickie of a record than an 80-minute marathon platter. It's as interesting a headphone record as it is a cool thing to slap on as ambient background noise, and it would make a great record to play while watching FOX News on mute.
It's an easy metaphor -- a clich.., in fact -- but Houston's sprawl and no-zoning mentality would seem to explain the album's catch-all vibe. In the city where the porn shop stands hard by the church, so too can ska, blues, Afrobeat, jazz, dub, spoken word, samba and other Brazilian forms, funk and hip-hop all exist in the same band's repertoire, sometimes in individual songs....
Houston Press, August 14, 2003
As Harry Sheppard put it while accepting this award for the rest of the Radicals, who are in Brazil, it's about time. Houston isn't the greatest jazz town in the world, but the hidden talent here is top notch. These cats deserve some sort of recognition. Leading the funky, free, progressive wave is Nick Cooper and his Free Radicals. Ever evolving, always outspoken, and as genuinely radical as their name implies, this rotating group of musicians puts on some of the most interesting live sets in this city. Expect a wild mix of keys, horns, percussion, and vocals playing music from every continent. The Free Radicals seldom sound like the same band twice in a row. The relatively recent addition of turntablist Fast4ward only makes things crazier. -- M.S.
Houston Chronicle, May 21, 2003
Free Radicals regularly blasts Houston audiences with its fusion of funk, reggae, ska, jazz and hip-hop. The collective also adds some much-needed improvisation to the city's mainstream music scene.
Seven years after forming, the group is busy completing production on its third album, Aerial Bombardment.
"For the most part, songs on the new album were not written ahead of time," frontman and drummer Nick Cooper says. "We did a lot of improv on this album."
Free Radicals entrances with its seemingly effortless symbiosis of sounds. Influences among the 11 regular members run the gamut from Charles Mingus to the Skatalites, making for some of the most unusual -- and vibrant -- instrumentation around.
"One of our bass players, Theo (Bijarro), comes out of a jazz background," Coopyer says. "I listen to a lot of African music. Thomas Sutherland listens to a lot of experimental music and our percussionist lives in Brazil on and off, so he has a real strong Brazilian orientation."
The new album makes some intriguing statements of musicality. Songs like Eyebrows takes the kind of chances we've come to expect from a group that can't say no to any instrument. It's also the only song on the album with lyrics. Free Radicals brought in famed blues singer Gloria Edwards to lay down her syrupy vocals on the song. Other tracks use Indian music, dub, turntables and drum 'n' bass. Overall, this offering gives fans a look into the group's superb blend of genre-jumping rhythms and riffs.
"On this album, we just went onstage, did improv and recorded the whole thing," Cooper says. "We took our favorite parts from that and overdubbed as many crazy instruments as we could find and put them in. The end product is something that sounds like something between live organic music and straight-up electronic music. But overall, there was no plan at all, except to make the coolest track that we could."
Free Radicals feels confident about its sonic inimitability.
"We don't like to pigeonhole ourselves into one particular genre or one particular style," keyboardist Tom Sutherland says. "We want to be open to everything and every thought and that includes our own ideologies when we sit and play. A lot of our inspiration comes from that. We also try to look at all different views. We're all from Houston and this is supposedly a diverse city, so we're trying to get some of that diversity out. I think people should always be open to say what they feel and not just go with the flow. It's too easy to sit back and not make a stand for what you believe in. That's one of the main reasons I got into music, I wanted to try to open people's minds with music. That's why we put emotion into the things we play."
Emotion about war and racism and commercialism has given the group a strident political voice and has fueled its impassioned poetry.
"Music is inherently about something culturally," Cooper says. "The traditions that we play in have cultural meanings, we don't just play something without meaning. I mean, reggae has a meaning, funk has a meaning. All of these music traditions are about struggle."
Free Radicals ventures outside of the musical mainstream when it comes to money as well.
"What's truly different about this album is the licensing agreement that we have," Cooper says. "It's something that's unprecedented for us. We have a contract by which anybody that was a part of the CD -- whether it was the guy who wrote it or played an instrument or did the graphics -- can sell the CD themselves and not have to pay anyone else involved. They can even repackage the CD and sell it, so the names of songs could change. But this way, everyone will be in direct competition with each other and there won't be any griping about pay."
How's that for radical and free?
- MAURICE BOBB
Houston Press, 8/01/02
Nick Cooper is surprised to hear that his band, Free Radicals, won Best Jazz honors. He called the Press the day after the Wednesday event and got the good news. But didn't his band tell him first? "No, I really should call those guys," Cooper said. Cooper played the Sunday gig and then went back to his borrowed summer digs in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he's been working on a novel. (So far he has 37 pages in the can.) This is his freewheeling combo's sixth win in three categories, but this year Cooper was particularly excited about the band's showcase gig. "We always get nominated separately from [Free Radical] Harry Sheppard," he said. "So this year we asked for our gigs to be scooted together so he could play his set and then join us for ours." Cooper is also pleased that Houston audiences have taken to the band's new, all-but-horn-free lineup, which includes Sheppard, Aaron Hermes and Tom Sutherland. -- J.N.Lomax
Critic's pick: Free Radicals
The Houston Press, 1/03/02
"Ever since Free Radicals invaded the Houston music scene in 1996, the continually evolving collective has been ballyhooed as "the most unique" band in Space City. And as clich..d as that sounds, there is no better way to describe this innovative group and its eclectic fusion of jazz, funk, ska, reggae, African and Indian music, and Latin jazz.
Front man Nick Cooper founded the horn-heavy hodgepodge of musicians with both experimentation and a high level of musicality in mind.
Our Lady meets both his goals. With influences ranging from Charles Mingus to the Skatalites, Free Rads' second CD, Our Lady of Eternal Sunny Delights, is a treasure chest filled with 31 gems.
To keep the music fresh, over 50 players lend their talents to this CD. Songs like "Killer Bee Honey" and "The Planets" show that Free Radicals isn't afraid to keep things real. These groove-drenched cuts are so funky, the body wants to get up and move something -- right down to the atomic level where the protons and neutrons are doing some finger-snappin' and toe-tappin' of their own. Other "how the hell did they put those sounds together" cuts include the Asian-influenced "Musafir Wapas" and the James Brown-style "Skillets."
Free Radicals' strident political voice rings through loudest on "Nyamezela Kwedini," a tribal ode that puts the listener right in the middle of African tradition and ritual. This is definitely the kind of music one would expect from a group who once delivered a nonstop 24-hour benefit concert for community and political progress. Free Rads has always been less about the kind of change you find in your pocket than the kind you effect with placards and ballots.
Overall, this trippy Lady seems like one of the more hallucinatory characters in Alice in Wonderland . Somehow, though, Free Radicals' superb blend of genre-jumping rhythms and riffs has managed to make sense out of what would seem to be a recipe for improvisational chaos. Expect a wild and seductive ride."
-- Maurice Bobb
The New Yorker, 3/27/00
"The horn-heavy, continually evolving collective Free Radicals produces a wildly eclectic fusion that has as many influences as there are items in the Houston, Texas, pawnshop in which they honed their sound during all-night jam sessions. The mark of such musicians as Henry Threadgill, Charles Mingus, James Brown, and the Skatalites can be heard on the twenty-nine songs on the band's self-produced debut CD, "The Rising Tide Sinks All," which, by the way, features fifty-five musicians. Expect fewer live performers, but no less of a wild show."
Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque, 1/7/99
"If Eric Dolphy, George Clinton and Frank Zappa led a ska band, they might sound something like Houston's Free Radicals. It's a fitting name for a band who are completely unafraid of the inherent risks of bastardizing jazz, ska, funk, rock, rap and world music, yet acutely aware of musicality at all times. The music that results is groove-soaked experimentation. But the liberty Free Radicals take with such a diverse array of musical forms stops well short of avant crap. Free Radicals keep things real by creating some of the most carefully arranged hybrid songs around and keep things fresh with an ever-mutating conglomeration of musicians--some 50 players appear in their most recent release, The Rising Tide Sinks All (Rastaman Work Ethic). No two songs are alike and not a single one can be effectively safety-pinned to the lapel of any genre. The ska-based songs have surf guitar breaks, the free jazz rides a funk wave and lounge swank gets its winking eyeball pierced by double-edged rock guitar--the combinations are endless and so is the pleasure of listening to Free Radicals work their weird magic. Free Radicals are a music writer's dream: with bands as capable and imaginative as this, one doesn't have to be careful with words like "unique." Bands like this embody the very concept."
"Not only is Free Radicals the best unsigned band in Houston, it's the most hyped band in town likely to never land a deal. That stigma, however, has nothing to do with quality or proficiency: An ever-mutating, en masse collective, Free Radicals - at one time or another - can boast the participation of no less than 60 of the city's finest and most visionary players, all coming together under the premise of a vast and indefinable fusion. Jazz, hip-hop, rock, ska, soul, experimental noise - Free Radicals don't discriminate; it's music just the same. And if there is a reluctant beacon of sanity in all the improvisational chaos, it's Nick Cooper, whose impassioned political poetry blankets the liner notes of the group's self-released debut CD, The Rising Tide Sinks All Ships, and whose steady hand behind the drum kit often steers the Radicals' on-stage excursions. Live, of course, the band's membership drops to a more manageable number (usually under ten). These guys are good, but they're not contortionists."
Houston Press, 6/25/98
"We're probably more of a jazz band than anything else," admits bassist Shawn Durrani, "because of our ability to improvise." But, he adds, "I'm always worried that we'll come across as a fusion band." Certainly, the Radicals' potent and eclectic instrumental mix covers a heck of a lot of ground: funk, ska, R&B, acid jazz and post-rock. Improv and standard jazz provide the basis for their wilder flights of fancy. For three years, drummer Nick Cooper was the group's only permanent fixture, but in July of last year, he found more permanent partners. Not that he's closed the doors to potential jam partners: The Radicals' debut CD, The Rising Tide Sinks All, spreads 55 musicians across 29 tracks, swinging and swaying across genres and continents. Looped funk collides with Texas jazz mainstays, ska rhythms, African singing, Indian musicians, blasts of saxophone, South African percussion, tablas and rapping. And somehow it works. In its current incarnation (which includes saxophonists Marcos Melchor and Pete Sullivano, pianist Tsepo Rhodes, trumpet player John Durbin and new, one-name guitarists John and Stu), the band plays compositions that appear on Tide, but they don't try to replicate the record. Live, the group blasts a wall of sound bigger than most rock bands. But the band members and their tunes have bigger aspirations and ambitions than that. The band is writing new material, with a mini-tour in the works for the end of the summer and plans for a new record. Durrani notes that on their next release, they will most likely distinguish between the performing troupe and guest musicians. Not, he admits, that the distinction will be obvious: "The funny thing is, a lot of the guest musicians on the record were in the band at one time." (D.S.) critics choice: Free Radicals "
O.C. Weekly, Orange County, CA, 12/25/98
"Houston-based Free Radicals includes former members of Sprawl, a band that played OC pretty regularly back in the early 90's and even had a following here. If you were among that following, you should know that Free Radicals are playing a bunch of shows around here after the new year. We'll be there for at least one of them, and so should you because if they're as tasty live as The Rising Tide Sinks All promises, they'll smoke. The Free Radicals hammer out a startlingly superb blend of genre-jumping rhythms and riffs that stretch from jazz to funk to ska to R&B to hip-hop to world beat, and back again - sometimes in the same damn song - and they make it all work without any bad, show-offy aftertaste. The Middle Eastern tabla thumping on "Larium Dreams" is exotic and peaceful; the old-school two-tone that pumps up "Home of Easy Credit" sounds like ska being birthed; "Ilalihamani" - the word itself is cool - is haunted by dreamy tribal chants that float above phat, shit-about-to-happen conga hits; song titles like "The School of the Americas," "Elegy for Ken Saro-Wiwa" and "The Capital Punishment Capital" tell us about their politics; and the stream of consciousness Leftie-ish rap that makes up "The Occupation" is only made freakier by the oom-pah-pah tune that blares uncaringly in the back, as seductively rough as the rhymes on "That Ain't No Lamb" are silky and supple. At 74 minutes - not one of them wasted - The Rising Tide Sinks All and the Free Radicals come off sounding as if War, Miles Davis, the Skatalites, Gil Scot-Heron and the Watts Prophets all got together in a studio, fired up some fatties, and jammed till they were sore. When we were blaring this in the Weekly office, some people thought the disc's sloooow jazz/R&B workouts sounded so salacious that they could only be songs from a porno flick. In a way, they're right: Free Radicals guarantee a great fucking Time."
"The Rising Tide Sinks All Some days, it really pays to be Nick Cooper. Fully recovered from his stint as drummer with the ska-klezmer-whatever band Sprawl, Cooper took a break to check out the various Houston scenes. He spent a bit of time recording and producing rap & jazz acts (observe his work with Necessary Tension) and, after he'd soaked up these various influences, went into his portable recording laboratory to create what would become Free Radicals. In a twist typical of the modern digital recording era, the CD was produced, and then a band formed after the fact. Good thing, too, cuz there aren't too many places in town that could host a 55-piece soul/funk entourage. Oh, and here's an added bonus not advertised about this release (for the musicians out there)--it makes a pretty cool funky Aebersold session."
-- Kelly Dean
Public News, 7/8/98
"There are some things in this world that are too good to ignore, outstanding even. So outstanding in fact, that people will make sure that you know that it is out there. The Free Radicals superb piece of work is one of those CDs that is so good that people call me five times a day so that I won't forget to at least mention this musical apex. It is a mixture of musical styles so diverse you would think you were listening to jazz, funk, rap, ska, and world music all at the same time. Let it not be said that this group can be pigeonholed. Oh, no, far from it. Songs like "That Ain't No Lamb" mix the homophobia and pseudo-politics of a liberal white man with the stern strong voice of a black man creating a soul stirring version of the conspiracy that surrounds this piece. The horn section on "The Home Of Easy Credit" is funky enough to make you want to listen to actual ska records and not their bastardized offspring. I could go on and on about this CD, because if I don't they may corner Gracie at a hip hop show and complain that I didn't say enough. Long overdue, but not allowed to be forgotten is the Public News review of the Free Radicals, The Rising Tide Sinks All. Buy it, steal it, dub it, or do whatever needs to be done to have this album. And, please tell Nick Cooper you read it in Public News.",br>
-- Kwame M. Anderson
Urban Beat v.4 issue 12
"Free Radicals is an appropriate name for this Houston-based funk/jazz group who's musical style changes freely over the course of The Rising Tide Sinks All, their 29 track, '98 release from Rastaman Work Ethic. Most of the songs have an instrumental, horn based sound, but singers, rappers and spoken work artists accompany many of the tracks that are filled with Ska, psychedelic-funk, and hip-hop beats, mellow, jazzy background horns, folk blues sounds, and, on songs like "Circus of Life" and "Lights Down" lyrics that become extended metaphors of a political message. A lot of CDs are released to make a profit, but with more than 50 musicians involved in the project, and many diverse styles, The Rising Tide Sinks All has been made to give the pleasure that comes from listening to great music."
-- Paul Smylie