Collieman ‘Jungle Code’ (Dubshelter Recordings) 4/5

An album of two distinct halves in 45 minutes. The second album from Belgium’s Collieman since his ultra cool 2011 debut long player with fellow artist Asham which was entitled ‘The Same Blood’ and in some ways this new long player ‘Jungle Code’ is a natural continuation from that first, yet I hasten to add with a newly found maturity both lyrically and in its mixdown, indeed a much more radio friendly delivery both for underground and FM commercial to that of the first album with the first half of ‘Jungle Code’ leaning into reality lyrics, a calling to stand firm, our personal struggles and the fight back against dreaded babylon and opression by simply ignoring that oppression and just getting on with it all as indicated in ‘The Show Must Go On’ yet with the band not giving what could have been a stereotypical down tempo heavy roots sound throughout the set but instead giving an uplifting and enjoyable club reggae sound with a heavyish yet accessible modern roots backdrop.

Listen to ‘I’m Still Standing’ from ‘side One’ which display’s this progression of this new album’s overall sound mix along side
Collieman’s lyrical maturity and its vocal mix since that first album.

Somewhere around the half way mark the album gives way to a more downtempo’d affair with the tunes taking on a more candle lit atmosphere by leaning into the lovers sound. Check out ‘Keep The Vibes Alive’ which should be an official single from the album with its crucial early 80s dancehall push blended into commercial radio style presentation, i.e. a danceable hookable and a splendid an all vibe, a feeling of listening to a sunday evening reggae chart rundown with pause button ready on the tape cassette recorder circa 1983. Another single could be the wonderful piece ‘Honey Bunny’ which is a Lovers special, as could be the most uplifting piece on the album ‘Vanilla Ice’. Backed by a tight band comprising of Martijn Van Der Broek on the drums, Dennis Cobas on bass guitar, keyboard work provided by Wim ‘Appleton’, brass section by Mathijs Duyck on the sax and Kris Van Hees on the trumpet, a certain ‘Kim’ on guitar from the DubTown Band and with backing vocals by Kimberly Dhondt and Astrid d’Hoore it is evident when listening to this new album that Stefaan Colman aka Collieman has chosen the right band for the job.

Stand out tracks: ‘Still Standing’, ‘Love Light’, ‘Gimme Likkle Love’ and ‘Keep Vibes Alive’ Collieman has a progressive attitude that I dig, keeping his trademark style yet pushing himself forward as an artist instead of resting within an old comfort zone, I also dig the fact that its ‘side Two’ that has all the contenders for ‘singles’ reminiscent from those chart rundowns we once heard on the radio.

The sound on the album offers a distinctive lovers and 80s ‘chart friendly’ dancehall vibe with some very nicely mixed in modern roots flavourings by the players and a very charming and heartfelt vocal delivery by Collieman, let’s hope that we don’t have to wait another five years for his third long player to arrive.

So “watch where you step, cos it’s a jungle out there”. A healthy 4/5 from my entertained ears.

Gibsy Rhodes