A rich history of reggae, Rastafarianism and protest music in NZ has culminated in the making of Unity Pacific’s third album, ‘Blackbirder Dread’. This album delivers what we have come to expect from veteran songwriter, Twelve Tribes of Israel founding member and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tigilau Ness. An energetic and uplifting approach to protest music is not uncommon in NZ reggae and this album celebrates the approach triumphantly and immoderately. Reggae can risk sounding repetitive but this album navigates around this effortlessly, often using powerful melodies, delayed introductions of musical layers, alternate chord progressions and, as in the case of Where You Gonna Run, temporary departures into rock-rooted sections. The title track borrows on live dub and trip hop traditions, skanking boldly and taking its time to evolve organically. Hold Me Close blissfully elates with catchy, familiar melodies and rich, layered harmonies that are so typical of our own reggae. Herb Tell The Truth tells the story, both musically and lyrically, of a strong Bob Marley influence. Rock Away, featuring Tigilau’s son Che Fu, casually carries that familiar, playful sentiment across while the powerful Reggae Testamon sports familiar, infectious rhythms and cerebral harmonies. Consistently strong, ‘Blackbirder Dread’ was recorded and mixed at Roundhead Studios with the engineering by Nic Manders and Scott Seabright and mixing by Kenny McDonald.