Although from over here in the UK it’s hard to see a decline in Power Soca (an extra high energy strain of Soca which averages around 160 bpm), the fact that there have been two recent releases having to clarify that it’s ‘not dead’, shows that maybe it’s maybe been dwindling a little back in Trinidad.
The first release is a collective of production houses which includes Kasey Phillips’ Precision Productions with a number of his previous collaborators: AdvoKit Productions; P.A.G.E; and Smash Productions. Their new EP ‘The Power Generation’ is something of a game changer.
Largely instrumental with a few choice vocal refrains on some of the tunes, the release maintains the spirit of Carnival whilst very much keeping one eye on the crossover.
‘Dear Carnival [Intro]’ starts with a heavy riddim that is easily recognisable as Power Soca riddim, then drops into a breakdown that’s more reminiscent of an 80s power ballad and a poem from L’shun “Jimmy October” Emmanuel, which serves as a love letter to Carnival.
This is followed by ‘Can’t Lose This Time’ where dreamy filtered vocals (courtesy of Syntyche Bishop), strings and uplifting choral refrains give an almost Hipster friendly Indie Pop feel to the trademark Carnival calls of “put your hands in the air” and “meet me on the road”. It’s a recipe that works remarkably well.
‘Til We Drop’ has a strong African influence, somewhere along the lines of Mbaqanga or Soukous. It’s a style that worked very well for AdvoKit Productions on their recent Folklore Riddim, although that was much slower at around 105bpm compared to 155bpm here.
‘Celebration’ and ‘Gotta Move’ are uplifting instrumentals whilst ‘Midnight Robber’ goes a little darker into Jab Jab territory, all have EDM influences which include a couple of pretty dodgy dubstep/trap breakdowns, but don’t let that put you off, all are still great tunes.
The EP works well as a whole body of work and I’d be very interested to see how the tracks work individually in the dance or on the road.
The second release is from legendary Soca band Traffik (or more correctly Traffik 7.0 as the ever evolving band are now in their 7th incarnation), featuring vocals from Actor/Producer/Director Rob Riley, whom I somewhat shamefully recognised as being from the new Dynasty series on Netflix (not my choice of viewing I swear!).