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Marcus Gad sings reggae from the soul

By Alison Hird

After his 2017 debut album Chanting, largely inspired by indigenous kanak culture in his native New Caledonia, Marcus Gad continues to enrich roots reggae on his new EP Enter a Space, with a meditative strain verging on the liturgical. Recorded with Parisian beatmaker Tamal, the six songs draw heavily on India's Advaita Vedanta philosophy in which life is transient, the important stuff is elsewhere.

Gad grew up with reggae on the island of New Caledonia in the Pacific.

"We listen to island music," Gad told RFI, "but also the kanak people of New Caledonia, tribal people, they have a really strong resistance and rebel culture so Jamaican music was really a vector for rebellion in the '80s."

On a visit to Ethiopia at a time when he was "looking for some kind of discipline [...] and direction" he found the roots of rastafarai. "This spirituality became my directive, I thought it was plain, simple and natural."

India has also opened his mind and "the whole lyrical part of [Enter a Space] is really influenced by the Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

"It says you're not this body and you're not this mind, so the whole philosophy is based on how to separate yourself from the illusion that you are the body. You're a soul and cannot be influenced by any physical experience."

The video for the song River was shot in the Indian holy city of Varanasi.

"The song River is really a metaphor speaking about the pathway of the soul from birth to death in this life and it’s comparing the human soul to the water of the river."

The video for Live up to the day was filmed in both Delhi and the Himalayas, and features Youssouf Diabate on n'goni, a three-stringed lyre popular in west Africa.

"Tamal likes to incorporate lots of world music instruments, it’s something we like to do because I feel that reggae music can accommodate a lot of outside influences."

They continue in that vein on the song Inna Nature featuring Burkinabe griot Losso Keita.

"A great, amazing singer," says Gad, "the song has this really spacey feeling. It’s a style we’re not used to playing so this is why we invited Losso and he’s really got this unique voice. If people get the occasion to hear him singing it would really be a blessing for them."

Marcus Gad sings about spirituality but also conservation, respect for mother earth ©Rafique Shaikh

Marcus Gad is on tour with Enter a Space. Next concert 27 April, 2019, at La Bifurk, Grenoble.

For further dates check out his facebook page

Enter a Space is out on Baco Records

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