Pama International - Float Like a Butterfly (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Pama International

Float Like a Butterfly (2005)

Asian Man

Grooves are the name of the game for Pama International. With cover art adorned by multi-colored butterflies, and two very stoned-looking men, I wasn't sure just what this disc was going to hold. Hippie jam band rock? Recorded bongo drum circles? Not that far from, really. Float Like a Butterfly is an album full of solid traditional ska and dub tunes that just make you feel good. Boasting members of the Specials and Mad-ness, this new project on Asian Man records does nothing but deliver.

The mellow vibes and thick grooves start immediately after the play button is first pressed. The album's title track does a good job of establishing what the album is about from a very early point. Using the same variety of instrumentation you'd expect for a ska record with roots in soul, dub, and rocksteady, the seven-member band relaxes you immediately with their carefree jams. The low, mellow sounds of the bass, the vibrant keyboards, and the soulful saxophone work are all just as prominent as the band's lead vocals, and things are better off because of it. That title track is one of the more upbeat, danceable tracks, but it also maintains some of those same smooth grooves that will permeate your speakers at various other points on the album.

The most important element on this album is flow, and it's handled with caution and expertise.

Things don't really get that smooth soul feel until the aptly named "Soul & Inspiration," where the vocals of Finny and the horn work of Simon Wilcox and Lee Thompson guide the song through every deep groove. "Burn My House Down (To Build Another)" follows that song up with one of the most feel good-jams on the entire album. You can't help but sway to the beat and really feel the soul of it all, and that's just how a track like that should sound. The band does return to the more upbeat ska, and transitions back to the much more mellow rocksteady without any sort of problem. Again, it flows effortlessly, and things just get better and better as the album picks up momentum. "Get Up" has an almost whimsical Caribbean feel to it, and the vocals are just spot on. Every note, every change in inflection, it all sounds absolutely perfect, with the only drawback being that some of the beats do feel a bit repetitious after repeated listens.

Be it traditional ska, dub, or rocksteady, there's a lot to feel good about here, and a lot to groove on. Twelve tracks, each with their own identity and their own great sound, you can't help but feel the island flavor.