Adrian Sherwood Zero Zero One/Pass the Rizla
GREEN TEA 10" VINYL GTT008
Remarkably this is the debut solo release from the producer who led the bleeding edge of sound technology abuse through the eighties. The "Rizla" lyric has been bubbling around for long time and comes to the surface here with beats from ADF's Sunjay, and vocals from the dear departed friends Bim Sherman and Prince Far I. Whereas "Zero Zero One" revisits the old Tack>>Head template of a brutal Keith Le Blanc beat under sampled loops on a god and drugs theme. Both have a manic dancehall flavour and preface to forthcoming debut album "Chainstore Massacre"!
Cornershop Motion the 11
BILBAO 7" VINYL ROOT18
I would recommend that this single be sought out if only for the reason that during the vocal the title seems to be rhymed with "gas mark seven" by Tjinder Singh, a man not to lose an opportunity for the key cultural connection. Apparently this piece is being given away at Cornershop's monthly roots reggae sounds night "Ital" at various venues around London and precedes the new album wherein we can expect more of the same. To lay an early ghost these guys have been heavily into dub and reggae since long time as this single lovingly demonstrates.
Massilia Sound System 3968 CR13
WORLD VILLAGE -469004
Massilia Sound System Y'a Des Fois
WORLD VILLAGE WVF910
This Marseilles based agit-prop dub/folk band all seem to fit in the Citroen CV whose registration number gives their album its title, although it was tempting to believe its was the reference for a far flung galactic body. When you read that the "thanks" section in the album's credits includes Bob Log III (Fat Possum helmeted rock-a-blues wierdo), Son of Bazerk, 13th Floor Elevators, Chico Science, Dr.Alimontado amongst other musical renegades, then you know you are in for a ride as rough as the band's chosen transport. Perhaps the best place to start is the new single "Y'a Des Fois" which lifts a track from the album for a tough but polished vocal and dub remix treatment from Adrian Sherwood. The more interesting album cuts stray away from the declamatory chanting MC style which seems so tempting for French reggae and into a more Charles Trenet inna dubwise style, a basic understanding of French will get you nowhere.
Rhythm & Sound with Cornell Campbell King In My Empire
BURIAL MIX BM06
Certainly a marriage made in dub/reggae heaven here on earth. For anyone used to the appealing but mannered vocals of Tikiman it may be tempting to view this German dub variant as a creative cul de sac, but the vocals of reggae veteran Cornell Campbell transports the enterprise to another sweet level. Much of modern reggae makes too much of the readily ability to either over produce or overfill the track. The cuts goes the opposite direction and is all the more powerful and enticing with the vocalist turning in a delivery that matches his hero Curtis Mayfield for purity of feeling over the heartbeat pulse of the rhythm.
The Slackers Redlight
HELLCAT RECORDS 80403-2
Various Knock Out Ska
The musicians driving forward the Jamaican ska and rocksteady revolutions of the sixties were largely carrying a jazz attitude, most clearly realised of late by the work of the great Ernest Ranglin. The creative underpinnings of the music were not immediately apparent due to the excitement generated by the delivery and the exuberance of the vocalists. Nearly forty years on there's a rash of US based punk ska outfits who generate plenty of energy on precious little substance. The Slackers are not one of these, maybe its an adult thing? Sharing the same label as Joe Strummer is a bit tough but their follow-up to last year's "Wasted Days" is high on quality of playing, ideas and humour and without any pretensions. Opening with an instrumental tribute to a late Skatalite "Cooking for Tommy" (McCook) these Brooklynites credentials are immediately established. Not as much dubbing as on their previous effort but worth heading for.
The "real thing" comes via yet another Duke Reid compilation of his Treasure Isle material. Even discriminating collectors of reggae and its previous forms will need regular checks on their Duke Reid compilations as they seem to breed surreptitiously. Of course the producer was prolific in his output which means there are still gems awaiting retrieval, and this collection boasts twenty ska cuts from dating from the early to mid sixties many of which have either not been released or are new to CD - in the U.S. market at least. There's mutations on Ella's "Tisket a Tasket" and Elvis' "Love me Tender" for the pop connection, whilst Don Drummond's "Knock Out Punch" and classic "Cool Smoke" satisfy the critical hipster and Justin Hinds ultra rare "Lion of Judah" brings comfort to the seeker. This is what Heartbeat is good at and established them as the first frontrunners in the reggae revival market.
Twilight Circus Dub Sound System Dub Plate Selection
M RECORDS M160
A welcome heavyweight vinyl release, cut at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering Studios, for the 1998 album which provides the perfect entry point for newcomers into the world of the Twilight Circus. This modern dub classic is Ryan Moore's best seller to date with ten blistering outings, the star track undoubtedly being "Lowell and Nine". This cut takes a drum loop from the artist to which it pays tribute to Lowell Charles "Sly" Dunbar who, for reasons which are technically beyond this writer, is one of the few drummers whose sound is immediately recognisable whether actually or virtually generated.
Various Greensleeves Rhythm Album #16 (Saddam Birthday Party/Jailbreak
Various Greensleeves Rhythm Album #17 (Herbalist/Energy)
It now seems that the Wire is not published regularly enough for this column to keep up the pace of these releases - the main reason why more 7" Jamaican dancehall singles are not featured is that their life cycle on the street only exceeds the fruit fly by a number of seconds. So to avoid poverty these Greensleeves sets provide a valuable cultural and social service for the rhythm slave as usually the beats are included on these collections before being unleashed onto the street. In a choice between these two new sets I would recommend the former where Harvel Hart turns out the toughest rhythm for his own Annex Production and Merciless delivers the title track in vengeful style. Even if not dancing you will need to lay down after an album's worth of this stuff.
Various 02 Scissors (Stone.Scissors.Paper)
Tokyo based label PLAY continue their series pulling together artists from across the globe united in their dedication to experimentation in dance whilst avoided the all-conquering corporate beast that is house. As the artists' production methods deployed on this album largely employ the continual construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of constituent parts whilst coming from disparate influences and origins a new genre is created in freestyle dub. DJ Spooky liberally quotes "Stalag" and unusually seems from an earlier age than most of the other artists represented here, where the other "star" names are Burnt Friedman and Luke Vibert. But its always sensible to look for the new stuff and this appears most markedly with the track from 20 year-old Japanese student Takaya who manipulates found sound, including Zippo lighters firing up and kitchen plates being hit. - an equation with never ending possibilities. On "Facial" he develops subtler themes on top of a Miami style boom box, an underused sonic tool I always argue!
Various Now Thing
MO WAX MWR145CD
Although the output of the Mo Wax label has been multi-varied in its stylistic approaches its underpinnings are largely pre-modern, impressionistic or expressionistic. Here comes a 10k volt shock to the label's body musical with a full-on vorticist attack from the massed dancehall brigades. Purely constructed, yet abstract and brutalist, these Jamaican dancehall dubs and instrumentals are every bit as confrontational as the militant calls of 70's roots rock reggae and dub. In fact more so, as such is the influence of Perry, Tubby and Pablo on modern music that much of what has gone in Jamaica post-Sleng Teng has been conducted in the absolute ignorance and blatant disregard of mainstream music business - with the notable exception of emissaries from the world of hip hop. Lenky and Frenchie are to be congratulated on breaching the walls with this collection - even if they do take the opportunity to include a few of their own cuts - bringing the likes of the "Grass Cyaat", "Baddis", "Warlord" and "Stress" rhythms into our streets, dancehalls and homes. The real Metal Machine Music.
Various Studio One Roots
SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD/LP056
The reggae police who circle the Soul Jazz office with a summons headed "Dynamite Selection Crime" will be called back immediately as word of this elemental release hits the streets. Put together by Honest Jon's Mark Ainley, who also helped out with Blood and Fire's "Darker than Blue" reggae/soul set, this is an impeccable selection of deep, deep roots tunes - many of which are either rare or very difficult to find for the average reggae punter. The mix of vocals and instrumentals all possess that unique Studio One hypnotic bass sound . The late Devon Russell's original vocal version of "Drum Song", the Gaylads repatriation hymn "Africa" and Cornell Campbell's exquisite "Natty Don't Go" are among the songs, whereas the stand out instrumental track is the opener, a Sun Ra style foundation buzz from Count Ossie with the Cyclones which is in all senses a revelation. The only off kilter note comes with the over-reverential revisionist notes which tend to rewrite history according to the worldview of Clement Dodd. Whatever the context for the creation of this music it now stands alone, although there is a lot more for reclaiming and reissue from the Studio One vaults I cannot see this set being improved on.
CITY CENTRE OFFICES BLOCK011 7" VINYL
Opiate/Dub Tractor Opiate/Dub Tractor
CITY CENTRE OFFICES BLOCK011 12" VINYL
City Centre Offices is a label enterprise split between Manchester's Baked Goods distribution and retail outlet and their Berlin compatriots Morr Music, their business captures an indefinable strand in modern music - its now post-electronic, referential, without boundaries and resolutely independent. This release from Berlin's Michael Zorro typifies the anti-genre, a media unfriendly limited seven inch release in a series previously covering artists such as Arovane, Fizzarium and Lowfish. "Eckermann" is a two-year old track with liquid guitar loops over very warm, organic beats whereas the more contemporary "Vian" lays a frothier Berlin style dub on the daydream. Further west in Denmark, two thirds of the Future 3 become Opiate and Dub Tractor, the former recently picking up some production credits on Bjork's "Vesperine". Defined as "Glitchdubelectronica" for an unwritten musical taxonomy which will be extended to suggest accompanying activities such as extended warm bathing sessions or laying naked in the snow. How else are we to make sense of all this wonderful music?