Trinity Roots

Wellington based Reggae / Soul / Funk / Jazz outfit spawned out of the cities early 2000s jam sessions. They’ve since become a very concise, song-orientated unit (leaving their member-sharing outfit Fat Freddys Drop to the more free-form approach) and put together a couple of great radio-hit singles and a fine debut album.

Their debut release actually managed to go platinum, quite an achievement for an independently released debut, which was highlighted with the release of their 2004 follow-up Home, Land and Sea, which garnished much more media attention (by now the band was one of the country’s more established live acts). The group disbanded in 2005, but then reunited in September 2010, embarking on a New Zealand tour. Long time drummer Riki Gooch (also front-man of Little Bushman) left in July 2011, replaced by Jean Pompey, joining Warren Maxwell (Vocals and Guitar) and Rio Hemopo (Bass – also of Breaks Co-Op). Drummer Darren Matthiessen performed on their debut EP Trinity, during another period when Gooch was on hiatus.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Trinity EP [2000 Trinity Roots TR01]
  • True [2002 Trinity Roots TR02]
  • Home, Land And Sea [2004 Trinity Roots TR03]

  • Music is Choice (Live Album) [2010 Trinity Roots TR04]

See-Also

Styles Upon Styles 2: Pacific Soul Warriors

2002, Sugarlicks Recordings, SUGARCD002

Following on from Sugarlicks first compilation ‘Urban Soul Pollution’, comes ‘Pacific Soul Warriors’ — without quite the high-profile line-up that the first compilation had. This time the album focuses more on the more soulful end of the spectrum, with downtrodden tales of heartache permeating throughout the album, with vocals verging on gospel at time.

Nat Rose opens up with ‘Mana Wahine’ — an excellent acoustic number, assisted by the percussionary skills of Khuja Lounge regular Levani Vosasi providing firm congo backing. Sung in Maori, Nat shows the way with a smooth lead vocal and careful backing – complemented by some fine lead guitar work. Brother J’S ‘Roby Rose’ starts sharply, J’s vocals cutting in over horn backing reminiscent of (french band) Air’s ‘You Make It Easy’ and joined by a mellow melodica complement mid-song – very tasty.

Tony Battle provides the albums first hip-hop track, with Zimbabwean rapper Nemo dropping slick vocals over a mellow, backing, layered up with synth and spanish-guitar. This hip-hop motif is continued with D Kamali’s ‘decide’, featuring vocal coloring from Lole (who also featured on the first album). Fresh pacific-styled hip-hop, finding a voice in a market dominated by an unnecessary American influence.

Thisinformation is something of a new super-group on the New Zealand soul scene – featuring the unmistakable keys of jazz legend Mark De Clive Lowe, and formed around defunct Christchurch funk outfit Solaa the track grooves with immense ease. Johnny Lawrence’s bass punctuating a downright funk explosion – i look forward to hearing more material from this happy pairing. Things take a step back towards the mellow with One Million Dallors’ ‘Cashmeruffle’. Tastey trumpet riding a bed of bass-heavy mellow groove as richie’s vocals thicken up the middle. Whimsical backing vocals only add to the warm and coset feeling this song gives me.

Fat Freddy’s Drop vocalist supreme Dallas lays down his own track with the funky ‘The Garden’, which was recorded (here in a raw, mellow form) back before his debut album came out. The funk that’s since followed is quite evident on this simple, open and gorgeously soulful number. Ghost Tones track ‘God Willing’ has received a fair deal of radio-play here in New Zealand – and it’s obvious why. One of the better dance numbers on the album with some tricky mellow vibes and a synth riff that verges on ear candy – the track simply sizzles. The later half of the track is highlighted by a fluent, free-flowing sax lick that just completes an already great song.

More mellow keys open up Complicated Souls ‘Je Foreste’ before an unwanted synth bassline disturbs the play. All things are restored to their glorious mellow peak once those delightful keys cut back in – Kaidi Tatham making a real impression on the Rhodes.

Styles Upon Styles 1: Urban Soul Pollunation

2002, Sugarlicks Recordings, SUGARCD001

Soul, funk and hip-hop with a pacific flavor seems to be emerging as the new catalyst of the New Zealand underground music scene. Over the past 5 years, a fine blend of well-crafted soul, funk, hip-hop and down-tempo has revitalized the flailing Wellington and Auckland music scenes. Where once Wellington was known for their hard rock outfits (Shihad and Head Like A Hole being the primary exponents), this has since been eclipsed by the likes of Fat Freddy’s Drop and Imon Star – with diverse acts from around New Zealand making Wellington their home.

Starting slowly with the least contemporary track on the album, Lole‘s “Samoana” layers up soft whispering Rhodes keyboards, gently strummed guitar and very traditionally styled vocals – not really my cup of tea, but a nice album opener nonetheless. From there things get progressively funkier. Ekadek‘s “Love In Your Eyes” lays down a phat bass-line accompanied by breathy whispers drenched in reverb. Brother J carries on this vibe with the aptly titled “The Scary Song”. Portishead-styled music backing mellow twin vocals and a killer chorus due to one heck of a funky guitar sound- very nice indeed.

Submariner‘s “Generation to Generation” carries forth Brother J‘s flirtation with ragga-influence vocal licks, all over a tasty shuffling drumbeat, before the centerpiece of the compilation, Fat Freddy’s Drop‘s “Runnin”. Greeted by horns, funky bass and skittery drums, it’s apparent why Fat Freddy’s Drop have been making such a name for themselves, and that’s without vocalist Dallas’ laconic, soulful vocals, which announce themselves like a familiar friend. Keep an ear out for these boys, they’ll go far.

The Nomad offers a funky retake of his (by now) signature track – “Concentrate” which trades funky drum licks with repetitive, driving vocal lines and a slippery guitar backing. Juse‘s “Music/Life” is a familiar jazz sample-based laid-back track with some nice, if somewhat uninteresting drum backing – too formulaic to catch my attention.

We’re back into soul mode again with La Brisa Louca‘s “Strangest of Places” – an array of percussive sounds, keys and both funk and Spanish guitar. Imon Star start slowly with “Vitality”, before a funky synth-bass lick sets the stage for a great vocal performance. Star’s work with Jodie Lloyd has always been of high quality, and “Vitality” certainly lives up to that reputation. Kaya‘s “Top Shelf” opens up funky house overdrive, twin wah guitars and a steady beat propelling the track forward until the song compounds with an array of grooved-out synth and bass lines, and vocals (with a-typical whispered french backup vocals).

Henry Taripo‘s “Mururoa” is a song of protest that relies on some gorgeously orchestrated vocals over a somewhat sparse musical background. Mesh‘s “Dragonfly” is another of the album’s dance numbers – again infused with a 4/4 beat and a repetitive melody, luckily compensated by some nice synth pads and vocal coloring – wouldn’t have been my choice of album closer.

Overall a fine, cohesive reflection of things to come from sugarlicks recordings, if a little inconsistent. The album ebbs and flows from start to finish, maintaining a mellow tone. Not a bad choice of album for a lazy sunday afternoon in front of the fireplace.

Fat Freddys Drop

wellington dub/soul/funk outfit based around dj mu’s distinct live electronics (handling the rythm) and sporting one of the best horn sections this country has even seen (or heard), fat freddy’s drop formed as a live improvisational group, trading members with fellow wellingtonians trinity roots. by 2002 they had become one of the countries most admired and best live acts, often playing no more than a couple of songs in any one gig, but drawing each track out to its most funkiest conclusion. in fact, they celebrated their live oeuvre on debut by releasing a 4 song live set from wellington’s long-established matterhorn bar, as their cherished full-length debut.
discography
picks in bold