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Beyond The Blue

28/09/21Seasoned French Producer Brain Damage And Jamaican Legend Big Youth Collaborate On Versatile LP

As we tuned in to Jean Trouillet's recently aired new instalment of his regular "Globalwize" format on Greedio, we chanced upon a noteworthy collaboration by seasoned French producer Martin Nathan, aka Brain Damage, and iconic Jamaican deejay Manley Augustus Buchanan, better known as Big Youth. Surprised that this LP had gone under our radar, we read up on the release notes that revealed another story, one that we didn't want to let go unmentioned. 

In March 2020, just as the pandemic went global, Martin Nathan and his longtime friend Samuel Clayton Jr travelled to Jamaica, to work with the legendary artist Big Youth. However, said pandemic and the ensuing worldwide lockdown left them with very little time to record, before they themselves contracted the virus. But while Martin Nathan was lucky enough to return to France, Samuel Clayton Jr did not make it back and passed away in Kingston.

Upon recovering and to honour the memory of his dear friend, Martin Nathan was determined to bring the project to completion and, with the support of his label Jarring Effects as well as Jamaican producer Stephen Stewart, he did just that.

"Beyond the Blue" marks the return of Big Youth, sounding fit as ever and laying verse upon verse on equally potent productions, almost exclusively new: "Sparkling and inexhaustible, distilling an amazing variety of vocal styles, that he created himself, he recalls [...] the golden age of Jamaican reggae in the '60s & '70s, performs his version somewhat conspiracist, of the sanitary crisis, evokes his faith and tells about love, while perfectly merging into each universe offered by Brain Damage."

As Martin Nathan serves up a multitude of musical styles, including jazz, blues, ska and rock-steady, to provide fertile soil for Big Youth's infinitely inventive, smooth and wise lyrical approach, we cannot help but marvel at how well this project harmonises. And so it is with both happiness and sadness that we share this collaborative effort with you, the last that Samuel Clayton Jr worked on, but one that we feel sure he would have been proud of. As Big Youth puts it: "Some people dying to young!"

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom