Is it an edit, a reimagining, or an entirely new foray into house metaphysics? In the case of ‘This Poem,’ an adaptation of Bobby Konders’ canonical ‘The Poem,’ it doesn’t much matter — though nothing will ever match the dub-haze vibe and revolutionary spirituality of the Konders track, this version holds its own. The ever-reliable Roots Unit has ditched the original’s enduring bassline, and that’s probably a smart move as Konders absolutely owns that massive riff. In its stead, we’re treated to a gut-punching low-end rumble, its slightly ominous feel leavened by gentle, sparse percussion and an eyes-toward-the-sky synth pad; Mutabaruka’s spoken-word call-to-arms is pushed front and center. The ‘don’t-mess-with-the-classics’ gang might be aghast, but screw ’em — this is a gorgeous bit of vibey house in its own right.
Like ‘This Poem,’ flipside ‘Trenchtown Double Down’ is rooted to a degree in low-key dubbiness — but here, Roots Unit goes for a recombinant-reggae feel by slicing, dicing and rearranging its sampled bits and pieces with abandon. An array of quick-hit vocals are laced around reggae- and blues-derived guitar licks, syncopated chords and, at one point, what sounds like a drunken jazz band. The track could easily be a fractured mess, but it not only holds together but glides along easily, largely thanks to an insistent steppers-derived groove. It’s sort of the raw yang to ‘This Poem’s contemplative yin, and another winner for the Black Rox boys.