By ROB DUGUAY
When music is both introspective and reflective, it can be a cathartic listening experience. The artist’s message that’s being conveyed is often relatable to the listener and in turn it creates a positive reaction. It’s refreshing when the sonic giver and sensory receiver are both on a relative wavelength when it comes to how they’re both feeling. Under the name Clatta Bumboo, Providence musician Sheldon Townsend is accomplishing this within the reggae realm. His latest release, the Catalysis – Miles Deep In The Attic EP, that came out on March 19 via Black River Sonics shows Townsend’s heart on canvas in honest and genuine fashion.
Subjects covered within the record include growing up without a father, dealing with internal pain, Townsend’s Rastafarian faith and the human condition. The music is very personal but it also comes from Townsend’s influences and what he views as important issues.
“I, my people, common people from the likes of Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Steel Pulse and UB40 all have said and still have some much to say,” Townsend says on the vision behind the EP. “I am heavily influenced by the message music from Jamaica but have always thought that parables in message music are overused and remain a part of the underlying problems. Even though parables were tools the oppressed people use to transfer knowledge, I have taken the stance that the stories can be told more explicitly and these songs do not have to conform to industry standards as it relates to run times. ‘Catalysis – Miles Deep In The Attic’ speaks for itself and is an expression around topics that affects me and my people in our day to day. ‘Break The Chains’, for example, talks about not having a father in my life directly, yet not blaming my dad.”
“It points out the fact that we are chained in a specific psychology, a design and a systemic form of conditioning, which each father who knows no father must work to change,” He adds about the track. “I wanted to put my own experience on record to start the conversation, to point out that we, oppressed people are suffering from systemic blight and recognition of our predisposition is a starting point for meaningful change.”
Versus Clatta Bumboo’s previous EP, Future Water, that came out last fall, Townsend worked with the Pawtucket based producer Tony Kid for this new release. Kid geared Townsend toward different artistic directions while being hand-off during the recording process.
“From the production side on the latter project, I was fully immersed in the direction and creatively directed the graduation,” Townsend compares the latter EP to the new one. “Tony Kid is a genius musician and he allowed me to express myself deeply without instructions. He was more like a friend with tons of time to listen versus Djim Job who was more of a dad while we produced the Future Water EP. Tony put some real time into the arrangements and the music is so good that I also decided to release a b-side. The Future Water EP to me was to prove to myself I could do it, after so many had turned down my offers to them as a writer.”
“The Catalysis – Miles Deep In The Attic EP is to speak truth and come forward for myself and for ones who can relate,” He adds. “Both projects are special and involve local music makers, both Djim and Tony are instrumental in the productions of both projects. Djim played the bass and guitar parts on Tony’s project and Tony played keys on Djim’s project. I am very proud that we are doing it from Rhode Island in a unified way. We are putting out good reggae from a place on Earth that is not known globally for the reggae sound and I know in my core that soon we will have a say.”
Along with “Break The Chains”, other tracks included in the EP are “When We Pray”, “Roots Official” and “Raise The Bar”. Musically it’s another example of why Clatta Bumbo isn’t your typical kind of reggae music. There’s an incorporation of electronic tones and Townsend has a soulful vocal delivery that puts a different spin on the style. To give it a listen, stream the new EP on either Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora and Youtube. It’s the kind of music that strives to forge a bond while opening up your emotions and liberating your mind.