Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cornadoor 'Without Restrictions' Review (Soundquake)

Growing up in Bielefeld, north-west Germany, Cornadoor was introduced to reggae by his father’s record collection. His dad also took him to concerts and big festivals when he was still only a child. As a young man, he went to the Caribbean several times, getting to love the Caribbean lifestyle and the local patois. (His name is taken from the patois saying ‘throw corn a door’.) After returning from the Caribbean he recorded a couple of demo tracks which left a lasting impression on his current label, Sound Quake. This partnership has been going strong since 2008 with Cornadoor voted ‘Best National Newcomer’ for 2008 and 2009 by Riddim Magazine. Riddim also noted “All Cornadoor needs now is a nice roots album and next time he’ll be mixing it with the big boys.”

We’ve now reached that point with Cornadoor’s debut album ‘Without Restrictions’. It’s a record that establishes Cornadoor as a true player in the industry. This is more than a ‘nice roots album’. ‘Without Restrictions’ presents Cornadoor’s impression of the world in a very precise and discerning way, allowing the listener to experience a classic roots-reggae album, musically and thematically.

Cornadoor employs many of Europe’s finest production houses on the record, including House of Riddim, Kingstone Records, Goldcup Records, Bassrunner, and Irievibrations among others. The crew from Sound Quake is credited for 6 of the 17 tracks.

‘Without Restrictions’ is a quality collection of original, modern-roots riddims. At the moment, it appears that no one can match the smart sophistication that European producers are using to create their music. The instruments are played, not programmed. The attention to detail is impressive. The riddims are layered and multi-dimensional. This fact makes ‘Without Restrictions’ an exceedingly good record.

Cornadoor’s indignation toward government is felt strongly on the better than average tracks Crying, World Inna Crisis, Get Up (Set to Kingstone’s ‘Cognition’ Riddim), and How Long.

On the heart-wrenching Ten A Dem, Cornadoor tells a gripping story of the plight of the poor and quickly rushes to their defense with a call for equality. Definitely a stand-out tune!

The title track is a ‘feel good’ tune set to a bubbling riddim that breaks down in places allowing Cornadoor to chat the box in impressive fashion. This is one of those tunes that sounds great on record but will sound absolutely incredible live! Cornadoor’s message is one of unification and impartiality. “I wish I could burn my passport and become a world citizen… moving without restriction… Tear my I.D. to pieces and be a free man.” The message, though improbable to many, is one that this divided, insular world needs desperately.

Traitors sees Cornadoor calling out and rising above the plastic smiles and back stabbing of band-wagon friends that surface at the slightest hint of success. Sound Quake’s Bigfinga presents a sweet riddim reminiscent of a Winston ‘Niney’ Holness production of the 70s or 80s, sparse yet complete.

Long Road is a stand-out track that captures the never-give-up mentality that is so necessary considering the struggles that plague us all. Cornadoor’s raspy tone flows almost effortlessly over a polished and precise riddim played by Kapten Rod and Jeepstar.

From The Day is a tribute from Daddy to his ‘likkle treasure’. Cornadoor cheerfully gives thanks for his daughter, the blessing he cherishes most in life.

Outta Mi Heart is set to the same riddim as Sizzla’s ‘Africa Chant’. (You may recall this wicked track from Kalonji that was featured on the ‘Still One Drop’ compilation from Irievibrations.) Cornadoor rides the riddim beautifully though the song doesn’t quite reach the level of Sizzla’s. It’s an excellent, stand-out track for Cornadoor, nonetheless, closing the album on a very high note.

‘Without Restrictions’ is a really good album. It is a roots-reggae album, through and through. The music is unreal. The hooks are catchy and well-delivered. Cornadoor’s patois comes from a place that is not at all forced or contrived. His connection to reggae obviously runs deep, emanating from a heart full of love and appreciation for the music which fully explains why he was able to produce such a good record. Recommended.

Without Restrictions - Cornadoor

Track Listing:
1. Crying
2. Traitors
3. Ten A Dem
4. Get Up
5. World Inna Crisis
6. To All My People
7. We Ain't Leaving
8. With You
9. Be Aware
10. Police and Informer
11. How Long
12. We Nuh Know
13. Things You Gone Through
14. Without Restrictions
15. Long Road
16. From The Day
17. Outta Mi Heart