After the Icon Eye screening, Likkle David, The Congos’ guitarist, discusses the brutal situation in Jamaica gently. “Music keep our mind from worrying about every problem,” he says. “Music take us out of our environment. And [when] we do music we see, we go in a different world in our mind. Even though we’re right here. It’s a form of transcendent feeling. To really stand in one place and jump up. You jump and you never move. You have to have imagination or you’re nothing. You’re hungry and you don’t have nothing. And you can’t find nothing. All you can find is this song, this sound inside of you. Before you know, you start to think about this sound, and then you forget about hungry. For a few hours, four, five, six, eight hours. And that just repeats itself until another day. And a lot of people survive like that for a while. Some don’t.” David’s limpid guitar lines grace Icon Give Thank closer “Thanks and Praises.” His painterly notes direct us towards the sky in colors so pretty they hurt, rising on some unimaginably gentle breeze. Clocking in at over eight minutes in length, “Thanks and Praises” is the album’s longest song. And it always ends too soon. Imagine a flawless spring day or extra Novocaine, weightlessness rocked by a tidal flow, the sonic equivalent of floating off a gorgeous Caribbean beach that you don’t have to have money to stretch out on. Forever, forever harmonize Myton (high) and Roy (middle) and Burnett (low).
To produce effective music with borrowed Jamaican voices is no major feat. There’s a long and often acrimonious history of foreigners doing just that, but like newlyweds vacationing at Jamaica’s all-inclusive, walled-off coastal resorts, it is a transaction that fails to enrich the community. To produce music as cohesively weird and emotionally rich as Icon Give Thank requires Jah’s blessing and a comfort-level bordering on familial. Stallones and Gengras did the complicated thing of going to the lion’s den and surrendering to its rhythms. Like the Rastas, they activate music as a spiritual pathway. Improvise, elevate, follow a vibe to its illogical conclusion. Humble yourself. Give thanks and praises.