It is the hallmark of a great artist to embrace a new musical direction, to set aside past glories, and to state: I will not be bound by the past. With this new album Unity of Opposites, Blend Mishkin and his band Roots Evolution have taken its mastery of the reggae form and moved ahead artistically by integrating new influences and fearlessly assimilating them into a new vision.
Yet if an artist decides to incorporate Andalusian modes, with jazz, blues and traditional elements that create a cinematic feel, and still not lose his roots-and-dancehall touch, can the resulting music be cohesive and contain a groove that is at once sublime and new?
Yes, for with the release of Unity of Opposites, under the endless energy of composer, producer and bandleader Giorgos Mantas, Blend Mishkin and Roots Evolution have dropped a new vision for themselves and their fans. The new synthesis is testimony to a group of musicians that display professionalism, discipline, musical teamwork, a love of melody and rhythm, and the courage to strike out in new directions.
Blend Mishkin has been known especially in Europe as a top-drawer reggae producer. With his roots bona fides, his presence at festivals near and far from his base in Athens, and with the success of Survival of the Fittest in 2015 and Wildfire in 2019, he has consistently delivered powerful reggae. So, it is thrilling that he is now holding himself to a higher standard creatively. Unity of Opposites weaves opposite musical forms and integrates them into a modern language. An artist’s commitment to breaking the bonds of reputation, or musical identity, looking outward, moving in new directions.
Heraclitus first proposed the idea of the unity of opposites in 500 BCE. He wrote that tying opposites together was the way of creating universal harmony and renewing vitality. Unity of Opposites by Blend Mishkin and Roots Evolution shows that the harmony desired by Heraclitus so long ago is still alive and well in Athens in the form of a band that refuses to stand on its laurels and is moving forward into new harmonic spheres.