Nine Miles - Revolution is my Name

review - 04.30.2008 08:00

the pillows' guitarist Manabe shows his own not so revolutionary reggae style with his solo project Nine Miles.

Nine Miles is the solo project of the pillows guitarist Manabe Yoshiake, and any fan of Bob Marley will immediately know by the band name that it cannot be anything other than reggae, as Marley was born in the village Nine Miles, Jamaica. And indeed, Manabe is a big fan of Bob Marley’s music. But rather than copying Marley’s style, he is finding his own way within the diverse paths of reggae music.

The album Revolution is my Name is his third release and the guitarist has written and produced all the tracks himself. He also played all the instruments and took care of the mixing. Just like his former releases, the artwork images of a polar bear have been used for the album booklet. While it’s not exactly clear what polar bears mean to Manabe and reggae, they give the CD jacket a slightly humorous appearance.

The first of the nine-track album is In A Silent Way. It immediately introduces the listener to Nine Miles’ style: slow-paced reggae with a steady rhythm, a horn section and Manabe's deep voice singing in English. Drifting on steadily and without anything noteworthy, it leads to the second song, the title track of the album. Revolution is my Name unfortunately does not quite live up to its name. It isn't revolutionary at all as it’s mostly in the same style as the first track, though with a little bit more passion in the vocals and instrumental breaks.

The lyrics of the album are entirely in English and Manabe’s pronunciation is quite good, but unfortunately the English is not totally correct. In Changes, the lyrics mention "don’t wait too late" and "don’t ever be afraid to flight" and it seems a pity he had no native English speaker at hand to check the lyrics, though it does add some unique charm to the songs. Changes is a very enjoyable song, actually making a change compared to the other songs with a nice beat and a quick, playful guitar picking.

People Make Up Stories almost has an hypnotic effect, slow and with thick and heavy sounds. If one is in the mood to relax and drift away, it’s a very great song with a romantic feeling to it, but it might be a bit of a drag when one is wide awake. Right Place, Right Time is more upbeat, with the horn section playing some very catchy phrases throughout the song. Unfortunately, Manabe’s low voice, which usually stays around the same pitch, makes it easy for the listener's attention to drift. The same phenomenon appears in Fighting on Arrival, and though the lyrics say "fighting on arrival for survival," it’s hard to find the fighting spirit in this song, especially with the unwavering reggae rhythm.

Easy Come, Easy Go, is definitely one of the catchier songs of the album will most likely have no trouble in catching the attention of non-reggae lovers either. All the right elements are present again, this time a moderately paced reggae rhythm, a horn section and Manabu’s vocals. What makes the difference is the interesting melody which offers more variety. Continuing in the same lively spirit is Word of Mouth (Final Dub Mix Version). The original version was released on the Return of the Polar Bear album. This track can definitely be considered one of the highlights on the album; the typical reggae rhythm is done away with and replaced by a more pounding beat and a number of effects, a typical feature of dub. The album ends with the only non-reggae song, Stay With Me. It is a gentle, soothing ballad with only vocals and a guitar, and it works like a lullaby.

It seems that Manabe has done a great job putting together his own reggae sound. However, the downside of the album is that almost all the songs are done in this style and it lacks variety, which might result in boredom. Because of that, it seems that the album won't appeal much to non-reggae fans and might have some trouble attracting new fans, but older fans already familiar with his style will definitely like it!
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