The mission statement for Berlin’s most beautiful producer Eva Bernhard is—like Rasmus Mobius and The Orb before her—to dissolve the borders between reggae and electronic music. Thus, her debut album for Jazzanova’s remarkably varied Sonar Kollectiv is chalk-full of waka-waka licks, Perry reverb, lazy subbase, and synthetic beats. The results are mixed, as you would expect. The soul of proper reggae exists in vibrant, live instrumentation and passionate lyrics, but Moving Without Traveling sounds thoroughly distilled through computers. It’s hard to tell samples from synthetics, and that does not work in its favor.
The odd track comes back from this over-digitalization, like the Pegah Ferydoni sung “She Walks Alone”. That one is based on an acoustic guitar and those guest vocals, with keyboards and studio effects bubbling up in a complimentary fashion. All too often, though, classic dub sounds are used as presets for seriously average downtempo and house tracks. Just bending the borders between genres is not enough to make a classic work by the fact of its existence alone. More flava, please!