Horace Andy and Alpha: Two Phazed People

With the help of Alpha’s confident, well-crafted beats, Horace Andy proves that he is still in integral part of the music world.

Horace Andy and Alpha

Two Phazed People

Label: Don't Touch
US Release Date: 2009-10-12
UK Release Date: 2009-10-12
Artist Website

Horace Andy rose to prominence in Jamaica in the late '70s, singing in his distinctive wail to the tune of reggae riddims. He has since put out more records than your grandparents’ garage sale, collecting an impressive discography that spans four decades and shows no signs of stopping. Alpha, a production duo from England, has been around for twenty less years, creating instrumental music in roughly the same vein as Massive Attack. The details on what initially brought these two entities together are vague, if extraneous, as the collusion between them seems natural, organic, and I daresay destined.

At any rate, Two Phazed People is the result, a record that manages a fine balance between dub, reggae, and, at times, a version of trip hop not unlike Portishead. Horace Andy, the still vibrant old soul of the Caribbean, is completely at ease regardless of the production format, his voice inflected with a subtle gravelly quality and an emotive tendency to waver, tremble, and shiver over the song’s words. This lends a transient sensation to the album, a fuzzy cloak of the ethereal that endures well after the vocals have faded and the music has finished bleeding through the speakers.

The record revolves around the song “Storm”, which opens the album and occurs two more times, seemingly at random, as remixes. This dual remix presentation seems like a strange choice for a studio album, but the various takes are so disparate as to appear totally unique. The original is pure headnodding dub, thumping along to glitchy percussion and ending in a spacey fadeout. The second “Shine Mix” is revamped into a bubbly echo-effect laden piece meant for skankin’ in timin’, and the final “Five Step Mix” minimizes the original’s vocals, allowing the synths to whir and bleep over a heavy bassline. Why this track in particular was chosen for such fervent reprisal is unclear, though I can say that it doesn’t detract from any consistency or come off as obnoxious. Sometimes material is original even when it’s redone.

But there’s more than just weather reports given in triplicate on Two Phazed People. “Make My Day” is carried by a repetitive bassline and Andy’s unrelenting optimism, droning on well past the eight-minute mark into indulgent trance territory. “Empress Lady” is a trippy ode to the fairer sex that Gregory Isaacs would be proud of, and “Declaration of Rights” is political reggae encouraging civil resistance that most people are quick to associate with Bob Marley. The album’s most undeniably energetic, if somewhat dark, track is “Believers”, featuring a gruff vocal cadence and a powerful guitar line. Even Andy’s cryptic repetition of the word “Ahem” is oddly infectious, so much so that I found myself repeating it as the song played in my head throughout the day, causing a few awkward social exchanges.

The downtempo “So Unfair” closes things out with an epically cinematic and arching keyboard flourish, cementing a dynamic value to Two Phazed People that is typically uncharacteristic of the loose reggae genre. With that in mind it is to Alpha’s credit that the production has such an impressive sonic range that still manages to remain steeped in Jamaican roots. Andy is unquestionably up to the task of his vocal duties, comfortably singing about life’s ills, the necessity of perseverance, and adherence to Jah’s will with a varied approach that never grows stale or weary. With the help of Alpha’s confident, well-crafted beats, Horace Andy proves that he is still in integral part of the music world, as important now as he was 30 years ago, achieving longevity through hybridization.







Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.


Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.


Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.


'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.


Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".


12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.


Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.


Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.


Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".


Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.