“Tessera” – Impressive New Reggae Album From Christos DC

By: Randy Radic, Contributor

Christos DC drops his new album Tessera the day after tomorrow, July 28. The album is on the Honest Music label. Christos DC, aka Chris Vrenios, is a Greek-American singer/songwriter and producer. He has worked and recorded with a number of renowned reggae stars: Sly & Robbie, Thievery Corporation, Akae Beka and Don Carlos, the Grammy-nominated artist. At the present juncture, Christos DC and Don Carlos are engaged in an extensive European tour, playing in a variety of venues.

Stylistically, Christos DC is reggae. He amalgamates R&B, jazz, mento and calypso influences into his sound, which is distinctive, unique and all his own. And the fact that he includes covers of prominent songs simply illuminates his confidence as an artist.

Tessera contains twelve tracks. The first track is “Speak The Fire,” produced by The Skankin Monks and featuring Zafayah. It begins with a shamanic chant and organ, followed by the groove, with a nice sidestick from the drummer. The melody is soft, riding on the guitar, with a catchy rhythm tripping along smoothly. Christos’ vocals are mellow and honeyed, complemented by stellar background vocal harmonies.

“Human Dignity” carries a strong groove, along with brass and a crisp piano that really adds to the melody, which is flowing and just a bit funky. The horns are bright but subdued so they don’t overwhelm the music. Christos’ voice is especially compelling on this tune, providing the song with a solid sonic impact. A halting R&B flavor runs through “Life,” which features a cantering melody that receives cool harmonics from drawling horns and the syncopated groove. The vocals almost sound as if filtered, but they’re not. It’s simply Christos utilizing vocal inflection to provide a unique sonic take on the song’s feeling.

“The Desperate Ones” is a solid remake of one of Nina Simone’s less well-known songs. There’s a definite R&B thread running through Christos’ version. The thread adds a melancholic feel to the melody, as does Christos’ poignant use of his voice. This is one of my favorites on the album. “Come Along” starts with a drum roll, and then settles into a steady groove and slightly tinny sounding melody, and muted vocals. The song is short, less than a minute in length, but catchy.