Published January 2, 2013
There’s an indecisive Icelandicness at work here. The production values, line-up of instruments (clarinet, melodica, euphonium) and vocals are all seemingly un-reggae. This simultaneously works for, and against, the band. This said Icelandicness gives Ojba Rasta an intriguing feel of “otherness,” and there’s an odd international flavour to the proceedings as well.
The band effortlessly tackles the musically upbeat numbers, which are contrasted by the more melancholic ones. In fact, there’s a clear division between the two camps as the album starts very upbeat, but gradually becomes more moody, with an uplifting reprieve in “Jónsmessa.”
The reserved vocal performances don’t add much, and do little in way of leading the music save for the album’s closer, “Í Ljósaskiptum,” which features a guest performance by Forgotten Lores MC, Birkir B. The lyrics are interesting, but there is a marked lack of vocal swag and presence—key components of reggae music.
Ojba Rasta also has yet to attain the swagger to pull their dubbier tracks. They have their merits, but the “feel” isn’t quite there. Maybe it’s the studio environment, but the acid-y qualities of their live performance are left out and this robs the band of one of its prime elements.
The album ‘Ojba Rasta’ is a remarkable animal, playful and problematic, yet easily enjoyable. For an album that is so indecisive, its ability to swoon and engage is all the more interesting.