Chet SinghChet Singh, Recessionary Revolutionaries, 2010

Perhaps revolution itself is in a recession these days. There are so many significant problems requiring revolutionary solutions, but it’s difficult to demonstrate that great strides are being made with any regularity or promise of lasting success. Not that intelligent, concerned, talented people aren’t involving themselves in the struggle. It’s just that the issues are so numerous and complex, and that the forces for the ultimately destructive status quo are so entrenched. Or so it seems to some of us.

Chet Singh is one of those talented, concerned, intelligent individuals who hasn’t given up, and fortunately his voice is heard with great clarity and passion on his latest musical offering, Recessionary Revolutionaries. The vehicle for his highly political and highly charged lyrics is a bass-heavy dub style (with loads of dense electronic textures as well) – fittingly enough, because there’s nothing easy-listening or pop-oriented about the messages he lays on the world. The reggae element is also fitting because, although now based in the Toronto area, Singh is Jamaican by birth, with stylistic touches that bring to mind not only L. K. Johnson and Mutabaruka, but even Prince Far I. And you should know that the targets of his stinging critiques are the deserving ones, not necessarily just the easy ones you might expect.

With Singh’s didactic purpose coupled with his declamatory vocal approach, you might assume this goes beyond heavy into ponderous or even tiresome, but no, you also have to consider the wealth of wit, rhythmic variations, unique insights and musical values at play. So in fact the album is extremely listenable. Intellectually confrontational perhaps, but enjoyable too.