Groundation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their groundbreaking album Hebron Gate with the release of Groundation Meets Brain Damage – Dreaming From An Iron Gate. The album is out now via a partnership between France’s BACO Records and the U.S.’s Easy Star Records. Stream here.
"And I don't want just a bare dub album!" That was Groundation founder Harrison Stafford's last directive to Martin Nathan, the French producer and dub artist known as Brain Damage, after entrusting him with the original tapes of one of the most captivating reggae albums of the past few decades: Hebron Gate. To commemorate the milestone 20th anniversary, the leader of the band asked Brain Damage to remix and rework these nine tracks from top to bottom. It's an exciting new way to hear it for longtime fans and a new door opened for those who haven't experienced the power of Hebron's Gate.
Groundation Meets Damage – Dreaming From An Iron Gate is not a project where the original versions are only briefly referred to, but it is a second birth that holds the spirit of Hebron Gate, while also being accessible and consistent. Keen on this kind of challenging exercise, the French producer Brain Damage tackles it with the precision he is known for, and initially dissects the piece, daring to extract and isolate each note. With this colossal work done, all sorts of moves are now possible: re-composition, harmony changes, integration of recording scraps, outer and new part additions. The Californians’ unique style, melting reggae and jazz, fills here with a different energy, psychedelic, more introspective, surely confusing at first for the fans, but soon exciting, for them as for the neophytes. A true reinvention of a monument of contemporary reggae for a completely new album, in essence highly recommended for Groundation fans for an “Alice in Wonderland” like trip, but also for all reggae and dub enthusiasts and curious music-lovers.
Fans got a taste of the project with the release of “Deaf Ears.” Right from the start, "Deaf Ears" takes a song that originally began as a one chord groove and recreates it into a whole series of chordal movements leading to the entrance of the lead vocal. It's a complete reimagining of "Weeping Pirates." The fading out of the group ensemble during the B3 organ solo is brilliant and all the added reverbs, delays, and effects send us on to the epic conclusion.
The rest of the songs fit perfectly into the whole album, which is meant to be listened to in its entirety for the full effects of the sonic journey. Dreaming From An Iron Gate, just like the original album Hebron Gate, works best as one cohesive piece of music, and is meant to be digested in one sitting. The songs, their arrangements, and the musical construct all work together as a whole. Harrison adds, “The fact that Martin (Brain Damage) really went inside the music and completely chopped up and rearranged the soundscapes presents this release as a standalone body of work.”
Groundation is currently on a European tour to support the 20th anniversary of Hebron Gate. Harrison enthusiastically states, “The tour is going phenomenal. The crowds every night have been so energetic, so full of positive vibes, you can really see the power of this Hebron Gate music. For all of us on stage, it truly is a wonderful experience. An album released 20 years ago can be performed live from beginning to end and for all of us each night, it is still so moving and inspiring.”