Tessera

Christos DC

Honest Music, 2017

http://www.HonestMusicDC.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/29/2017

Christos DC is Chris Vrenios, a Greek-American Renaissance man and multi-instrumentalist. Well known for his role in the reggae scene as part of Nation's Capitol, Vrenios even releases his music on his label, Honest Music. On his fourth album as Christos DC (Tessera is four in Greek), Vrenios brings in the company of Zafayah and The Skankin Monks, among others, to help flesh out a very eclectic offering.nbtc__dv_250

“Speak The Fire” gets things underway with chanting from Indian shaman Sadhu Ananda before seguing into mesmerizing and soulful reggae. “Human Dignity” follows and bridges early and modern versions of reggae and roots rock with a positive message. Meanwhile, “Life” brings warm horns to the sincere atmosphere, courtesy of Brian Falkowsky and Joseph Brotherton. One of the most fun tunes here is “The Desperate Ones,” originally sung by Nina Simone, where Christos DC reworks it with an ultra-melodic sensibility.

The middle of the album brings the short “Come Along,” a vocal-less interlude with a firm groove and a fleeting melody that filters right into one of the best selections, the traditional Greek tune “Ρολόι κομπολόι.” Translated to “Watch Rosary,” the roots reggae revision uses flutes and vivid horns. The following tune, “Say What You Want,” is similar, though with more distinct bass work. “What Is Happening” is one of the more emotive moments on the disc, with Akae Beka helping out; the random sound effects and soft cooing backing vocals ensure it's also one of the most varied.

Tessera ends with saxophones, trumpets, and organs on “Pressure,” the reggae version of Neil Young's “Heart Of Gold,” and “Communion,” where Kenyatta Hill and Harrison Stafford's contributions make it the album's anthem. The album exits on the instrumental “Boots And Tie,” where a talk box guitar plays over a rare Sly & Robbie/Taxi Gang tune from 1980.

While reggae is the primary sound present on this album, fans of R&B, jazz, and plenty of other world influences will find something in here worth sticking around for.

Rating: B

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