Ganja Beats "Paradise & Tranquility"

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Review by PKS
The last album by Jake Stephenson (R.I.P) out on Organic Records.

Organic Records based in the UK mostly releases psychedelic trance, but has also given us some chilled music lately. Now they are out with a dub album by one of the true pioneers in the trance/ambient scene, Jake Stephenson, here called Ganja Beats. He is known for running the Kinetix label, but also for making music as Shamanic Tribes On Acid, Alien Mutation, Dr. Psychedelic, Mantra, Crystal Moon (together with Ishq), Bass Meditation, Mind Control, Eyetek, Whitestar and offcourse Optica and Optic Eye. Jake tragically died earlier this year at the age of 42, right after he had completed this album.

Ganja Beats "Paradise & Tranquility" Organic Records 2005 (ORGCD010)

1. Mystical Experience
2. Herbalised
3. Space Is High
4. The Sacred Dub Vibe
5. Utopia
6. Roots Of The Ganges
7. Herb Is Good
8. Rhythm Of Dub
9. Internal Energy
10. The Gift
11. The Lost Forest
12. Sister Bliss13
13. Deep Tranquility

This album starts with a really heavy reggae dub track. Here we get smoking reggae vocal samples, totally slow, dubby beats and tons of bass. Not my favourite kind of dub, but might be something for the rastamen out there. Track 2 continues a deep, dubby vibe. Very slow and relaxing. Here we get some more light melodies too, which makes it to a really pleasant, quite atmospheric listening experience. Track 3 is much more floating. Nice atmospheric ambient with some dubby beats in the background. Great track, and one of my favourite tracks on this album. Track 4 continues a beautiful, floating, relaxed vibe. Bubbling underwater sounds and dreamy soundscapes. Nice melodic track with some down tempo beats. Track 5 goes more melancholic. This one is not as dubby as some of the other tracks here, but has a beautiful floating ambient vibe. It reminds me of some old quality ambient tracks. Track 6 has some eastern vibes, just as the track title says. Indian sitar sounds mixed with dubby bass and beats. Very slow and relaxed, but I find this kind of dub easily a bit boring.

Track 7 goes back to the reggae dub style again. Totally smoked out reggae vocals, dubby beats and an organ melody. Not my cup of tea, but might be something when I’m totally exhausted. Track 8 continues the Jamaican vibes, but here we get a pretty nice melody. Reggae without vocals... Track 9 slows us even more down. Deep dub, with reggae voice samples and heavy bass. Track 10 is among my favourite tracks on this album. This one has some kind of break beat rhythms mixed with beautiful floating sounds. Track 11 starts with birds singing. This is among the most chilled tracks on this album. Pure summer vibes for the chill out area. Track 12 continues the slow vibes with one one of the most beautiful tracks I have heard by this artist. Flute sounds and beatiful floating soundscapes. The last track on this album is also a floating ambient track. Deep, beautiful track with the sound of running water, birds singing etc. Reminds me a lot of tracks by Ishq.

This album came as a surprise to me. I really like some old releases by Jake, especially the chilled ones, so it’s nice to see that he came up with more of that. On this album you get mostly dub with reggae influences, but also some really beautiful, floating ambient tracks. Personally I prefer the ambient part, but I’m sure there are some rastamen out there who will appreciate the dubby side too.

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Ganja Beats - Paradise & Tranquility
Death Posture 15.07.2005 18:44
Requiem for Jake.

UK-based Organic Records are out with their 10th CD-release… After the Tsunami Benefit compilation and the brilliant Invasion From Hyperspace compilation, it’s time to chill out for a bit… Time for some peace and tranquillity… Ganja Beats is Jake Stephenson who sadly passed away recently at the age of 42 after suffering an epilepsy attack. Jake was a very dedicated and productive producer – among the most productive ever! He was the man behind the Kinetix Recordings label and his production aliases included Shamanic Tribes On Acid, 3rd Eye, Alien Mutation, Bass Meditation and countless others… He was also a member of the groups Optica, Optic Eye and Crystal Moon with Matt Hillier of Ishq… This album was completed short before he died… (R.I.P.)

Let me take you thru the tracks…

#01: Mystical Experience
“Rastaman dub vibration! Heavy dub sensation…” Jake Stephenson is collaborating with Jon Sharp here. And the vocals are by rastaman Micheal Neganah… This is laidback, spliffy dub… Puff, puff giiiiiiiive! It’s kinda boring though – not really my style and the samples annoy me…

#02: Herbalised
Things pick up here… It’s still very laidback dub, but we get some floating melodies now, to spice things up a little… Oh, and the breakdown is nice and chilled… But yeah – focus is still on da herb as the title suggests… Decent track!

#03: Space Is High
Right, now we’re getting somewhere… This is much more my cuppa java… We start out with floating, beatless spacy ambient… An icy-cold sensation at first, but soon the ice is melted by the warmth of the subtle dubby vibes… And gone are the annoying rasta-samples… I totally dig this… I wish it was longer.. ;o)

#04: The Sacred Dub Vibe
As the title suggests we’re back in dub territory now… It starts off chilled and organic – dripping water and digital birds… And soon a lazy dub vibe is introduced carrying us towards some sacred location… A very dreamy, pensive, soothing track here… Nice!

#05: Utopia
Let’s dig deeper… The dubby vibes are practically gone here, and we’re left with a deep, cold ambient piece with just a few beats left to keep you awake… The intro is very cool: Synth experimentation mixed with – silence! Later on we get a little more action, but we’re still in ambient territory… A very different track, but I like it!

#06: Roots Of The Ganges
Yeah – we’re in India now… As the title suggests! Think a stripped down, lo-fi version of East Of The River Ganges – and you’ve pretty much got it… This is ethno-dub with oddly misplaced melodies… Weird to say the least! I’m not sure what to make of this… Parts of it are really good, others are too naïve for my taste… Decent track!

#07: Herb Is Good
“Herb is a plant. I mean, herb is good for everything!” Jake Stephenson is joined by Jon Sharp again and we back to the reggae-rasta samples… This is hard-core dub with annoying voice-samples and an even more annoying organ-melody… An unfortunate combo to say the least… Sorry, I don’t like it at all…

#08: Rhythm Of Dub
We continue down the same path here, though this time with vocals by Micheal Neganah – and they are less annoying… This is still hard-core dub with rich reggae influences – with nifty little melodies to balance things out… The experimental bridge is very cool… Very well executed fusion music here… I like it!

#09: Internal Energy
More rastaman lyrics here – alongside a deeeeeeeeep dubby beat… We also get some synth experimentation and a few melodies… Unfortunately it doesn’t mix too well… I tend to skip this track!

#10: The Gift
Ahh – much better now… The dubby bass and the floating soundscapes are now accompanied by a pretty sweet rhythm section + dreamy female moaning… It may sound cheesy, but it’s not. It’s all very nicely done and this is a very likeable track…

#11: The Lost Forest
More floating ambient here… Some bird action in the intro… Later on we get some lazy percussion… I especially like the tribal part… Yeah, this is very forest-like… Jungle-downbeat… Sweet track – but too damn short!

#12: Sister Bliss
This is, hands down, the best track on this album… Beautifully crafted ambient music that will send you straight to dreamland… The soothing vocals here are by Jayne Stephenson, and I’m guessing its Jake’s sister (hence the title…)!?… High quality, floating ambient here… With a flute line nothing short of perfection… Very well done! Only gripe is that this track is too short…

#13: Deep Tranquillity (Bonus Track)
This last bonus track here is also floating ambient – thankfully! Virtually beatless, this is one of the deepest, most dreamy tracks here… Running water, high-pitched xylophones, soft filters and atmospheric soundscapes… Designed to put you to sleep… And it works… What a great bonus track… Zzzzzzzzzz….

Well, I’m not sure what to think of this album… I know that dub, reggae and ambient are closely related, but to be honest I really don’t like the reggae tracks here… They seem to get somewhat in the way of the much better ambient/chill-out tracks… I know that this was Jake’s style, and I hope he doesn’t turn in his grave when I write this… But to conclude, I don’t really like half of this album… But the other half is extremely nice! What a complex!

So you could say that beautiful ambient tracks make up for the less good tracks here… And I’ll even admit that the reggae tracks might even serve their purpose when under the influence… But for me right now, I’ll skip ‘em… I’m sorry to see Jake leave this Earth so early – I hope he’s at a better place right now hanging out with Bob Marley & Curt Cobain… He’s made some great stuff in the past, and at least half of this album is very sweet… Obviously I’ll recommend this to fans of both ambient/chill-out and dub – and if you’re also into reggae you will not want to miss this album… I’m putting this up on my shelf next to Kukan-Dub-Lagan’s Life Is Nice released on Candyflip in 2004… If you liked that, you’ll love this… Enjoy!

Favourites: 3, 4, 5, 8, 10(!), 11, 12(!!), 13(!)

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