Retrospective Reviews: Bedouin Soundclash - 'Sounding a Mosaic'

The rise of then little known Reggae infused ska-rock band, Bedouin Soundclash's and their breakthrough album, 'Sounding a Mosaic'

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Oct 14 2014, 4:13pm

Recorded at DNA Studios in Montreal and produced by Darryl Jenifer of legendary hardcore punk band Bad Brains, Bedouin Soundclash’s breakthrough album, Sounding a Mosaic, was truly unlike anything else on the Canadian charts at the time of its release. Largely thanks to the success of the album’s lead off single “When The Night Feels My Song,” which peaked at number 1, the album sold over a 100,000 copies at home here in Canada, effectively putting both Bedouin and their reggae infused ska-rock sound on the musical map.

Drawing inspiration as wide as Jamaican Dancehall and Reggae-Roots artists Tanya Stephens and Buju Banton to more acoustic pop oriented stuff, Sounding A Mosaic was an incredibly well written collection of songs and relied on nothing more than simple, classic Reggae instrumentation––things like thick, dominant basslines coupled with offbeat rhythmic guitars and frequent call-and-response sections. But, what really caught everyone’s attention was frontman Jay Malinowski, who as an unassuming white guy, surprised listeners with his raspy, easy going voice and penchant for annunciating his words in loosely delivered Jamaican Patois. Lyrically, the record also fed into the Reggae tradition of social criticism, touching upon topics like Colonialism in the Caribbean and the idea of the “North American Dream”.

Sounding a Mosaic went on to produce two additional singles including “Shelter,” which was a brassy but steadily cadence track that proved to be exactly the kind of follow-up a band on the brink of success needed to produce in order to stay afloat, and “Gyasi Went Home,” which was written as a tribute to the historical sacrifices made by the people of Guyana. Beyond that the album was jam-packed with other notable tracks such as the prophesying “Living In Jungles,” more traditional Caribbean flavoured songs like “Money Worries” and “Rude Boy Don’t Cry,” as well as “Jeb Rand,” which was written about a character from the 1947 film Pursued, starring Robert Mitchum.

For a relatively unknown three-piece band from Toronto, Sounding a Mosaic did wonders for Bedouin Soundclash, helping them to break into the UK market and establish a fanbase in the US where the album peaked at number 9 on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums chart.

Although it wouldn’t be for another three years until the band really hit their stride as songwriters with the release of 2007’s Street Gospels, Sounding a Mosaic injected Canadian rock radio––which was largely dominated by a combination of already established acts such as Nickelback and Matt Good and pop punk bands like Sum 41 and Simple Plan––with a whole new sound for fans to consider.