After more than two decades of career, it is time for Groundation to unveil their 10th studio album One Rock. It’s the fruit of what defines our world, as we witness this human experience here on the “one rock” planet Earth. In this new album, it is time for introspection. Understanding which path we want to take for the future, which paths we should avoid, those that have led to so much division, despair and fear in the past. These are the many observations that band leader Harrison Stafford sings about on 9 tracks recorded on 2″ analog tape at Prairie Sun Studios in Sonoma Country, California.
In many ways, One Rock can be seen as a product of the global pandemic of the last two years. A period in which Groundation is aware of the issues of selfishness and greed that have emerged, while paying tribute to the victims but also to the reggae legends who have left us in the last two years. The group’s desire to honor the “veterans” on this album was therefore obvious. So Groundation decided to call upon The Abyssinians, Israel Vibration and The Congos… Three legendary groups who helped form the backbone of the music the world knows as reggae.
Groundation’s relationship with these three bands is very strong. The Californian band has long honored their respective pasts and believes that they have played a vital role in Groundation’s musical journey. Added to this are the common experiences of many shared concerts and festivals, on many stages around the world. Over the years, special links have been forged, notably between Harrison Stafford and Israel Vibration, with the Congos as well, but also between Harrison and Bernard ‘Satta’ Collins, singer of the Abyssinians.
To implement these collaborations, Groundation wrote and arranged parts specifically for these unique singers, taking into account their style, range, tone and phrasing. The track Original Riddim was calibrated to accommodate the talent of the Abyssinians and Israel Vibration. The Israel Vibration duo, made up of singers Wiss and Skelly, are also invited on the up-tempo heavy groove track Iron that closes the album. As for the Congos, who had already participated in the albums Hebron Gate released in 2002 and Here I Am in 2009, it seemed obvious for Groundation to call upon them on the eponymous track One Rock.
This new album One Rock continues the musical excellence for which Groundation is known. As on previous albums Young Tree, Each One Teach One, Hebron Gate and We Free Again, the band focuses on playing together on each of the tracks, leaving little room for overdubbed tracks. Groundation, composed of two guitars, drums, bass, piano, Rhodes, b3 organ, three horns and three harmony voices, also welcomes a classical string trio on this new album. A great first for the band, bringing a unique texture and emotion to the first three songs.
Tracks such as Greed and Silver and Gold venture into unexplored polyrhythmic worlds, while Absolutely Clear and Day When The Computer Done explore new harmonic movements. Market Price features a solo piano intro that leads into a frenzied brass arrangement, before turning into a slow one-drop odd-meter, creating a world of dichotomy between the upbeat, joyous musical atmosphere and the intense lyrics that depict the megalomania behind many of the world’s leaders and the millions of people who follow their madness.
Groundation’s One Rock album is available on May 13, 2022 on CD, vinyl and digital.Harrison Stafford says, “Yes, I can say that we are extremely proud of the new One Rock album. Having Israel Vibration and The Abyssinians on the same song is reggae history and as a fan of the genre, I can say that’s awesome!”.