Music Reviews


Live at the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal


If all things in life were actually equal, Portland’s Systemwide would be considered one of the hottest bands in music. Their first full-length release, Pure and Applied, was among the best albums of 2002. They are energetic, exciting, innovative and most definitely talented – more so than most everything new you’ll ever hear on the radio. But life ain’t fair, and Top 40 is not going to suddenly open their airwaves to dub bands.

Fortunately for all of us, radio does not dictate everything. Great music can still be heard, and Systemwide’s new live album is definitely that. I thought nothing could outdo the kinetic power of Pure and Applied, but this disc showcases the band’s explosiveness at a whole new level of destruction. These fellas take dub to new heights and different dimensions. They take the meditative, Jamaican music and inject subtle, yet decisive, doses of punk, funk and just the right dash of hip-hop. Drummer Josh Skins once again drives the music with straight-up muscle. Every song blasts out at you while still maintaining that crawling-bass groove for which dub is known. It’s an intoxicating amalgamation that works well and wonders. One can’t help but be excited (almost enthralled) listening to this group. They are truly a great act. Hopefully, one day, they’ll make it East, so I can actually see them live. I feel cheated and blessed only hearing them live.

BSI Records:

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