Being raised on calypso, reggae and soca music since birth, I always thought that by coming to Taiwan I would have to wean my Caribbean cravings for at least another year. However, after listening to one up and coming band, I can confidently say my cravings are satisfied. Hang in the Air is a reggae-rock band that flawlessly provides reggae music with a dash of Taiwanese spice and is bringing a fresh breath of air to the Taiwanese music scene. Their debut EP entitled 一大片的風景 A Vast Scenery is already creating a fervor among audiences everywhere.
From the beginning to the end, I was utterly impressed by their attention to detail and dedication to the form of reggae music. Reggae music is a very localized sound and I found it notable that Hang in the Air sings in the Taiwanese language throughout the album. The guitar solos are reminiscent to great classic reggae guitarists such as Peter Tosh and Willie Lindo. Lai-Q’s and Chen Hao’s guitar work is technical, emotionally driven, and above all dynamic. First-time listeners will never have a boring moment as this album simply lacks predictability within each of its movements. Yet, it’s the bassist melodies (Liu Peilun) and drum lines (Gao Junlong) that are woven so tightly and effortlessly within each song that gives it the polished sound in a multicolored bow. In short, Hang in the Air’s complex music sounds natural, unforced and soothing, staying true to the tenants of Reggae-Rock.
First off, the album artwork is impressive. The outer cover depicts a man floating in a sea of tranquility. And, the inner cover folds out into a four-page spread that has an upside-down picture of a man flipping in the air behind a vast array of scenery.
The first song, properly entitled Intro 空中道別, provides a perfect introduction to the band’s overall sound. It starts off as an upbeat, cheery, reggae rock tune that is topped off with optimistic vocals. It then slides into the more laidback and trademark reggae sound in the title track 一大片的風景 A Vast Scenery. This song deals with the ease one finds to talk about matters of the heart when alcohol is involved. Another stand out track is the next song 大膽走一步 Courage Takes a Step, which is about a person encouraging another to take a potentially demanding journey with them. This track makes you feel like you passed the prep talk and already boarded that reggae train with destination to irie. However, my favorite track in the album is 直直去 Move Forward. This track is nothing less than an eargasm with a bonus song at the end. It’s filled with fluid guitar solos, heavy basslines, and laidback drumbeats with a pinch of tension from the keyboards. If you have only time to listen to one track off of this album, then this would be the one that I would highly recommend.
Needless to say, I love this album. I also highly recommend this to any listener, especially on rainy days or times when you need to get some irie back into your life.