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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dub Review - November 2008

Admiral Bailey

The Best of Admiral Bailey


Glendon Bailey aka Admiral Bailey burst through in the mid 80s as a rambunctious goodtime DJ on Prince Jammy's Super Power Sound, like many of his predecessors he ran a fine line between conscious lyrics and pure slackness, on the one hand responsible for the banned "Punaany" - eventually re-recorded in a cleaned-up version as "Healthy Body" - whilst recording the anthemnic "Old Time Some Thing" these days known as "Nuh Way Nuh Better Than Yard" a celebration of traditional values. Whilst the former is exorcised from this collection many of Bailey's toughest proto-bashment tunes are here, including "Big Belly Man" on the "Agony" rhythm and a bunch of great one-away efforts such as "Me Head A Hurt Me" and "Try Some Hustling" providing plenty of source material for future anthropological scrutiny.


Silvah Bullet


There's an old dub triangle that lay between Huddersfield, Bradford and Leeds in the county of Yorkshire, the latter point's epicentre is Chapeltown, traditionally home to Jamaican émigrés, students and hippies from a bygone age; judging by this new vinyl piece there's something stirring again basswise. "Silvah Bullet", perhaps a warning against easy answers to anything, is a stumbling but regular half step prodded forward by sneaky bass synth bubbles and, although from a different era and slower at the BPMs cut on this disc, reminiscent of Meat Beat Manifesto's epochal "Radio Babylon" in the feel of the track. The introduction of bongos and the reverbed "chanka chanka" reggae guitar upward chops imbue the track with a much warmer feel, as does the desultory, repeated vocal line. Usually tunes that come forward in a genre's slipstream are going with the flow, its good to hear this one going against it in a dubwise direction. Of the three other tracks on the E.P. the brittle "Punk 5" starts with a mournful violin that could be from either Bombay or Berlin before the breakdown arrives, the violin sounds are dubbed out on each reappearance holds wood clap style percussion the procession of sound above a murky bass whirlpool below.

Bo Marley vs. Disrupt

Bo Marley vs. Disrupt


Already downloaded to death from the Jahtari website (www.jahtari.org) this 12" previews a forthcoming collaborative album between Leipzig's Disrupt and Bo Marley, the back line from Danish reggae band Bliglad, though the dubs here are exclusive to the vinyl. Both "Bauhelm" and "Fleisch" are worked up in the originals in fairly skeletal old school digi-frame, except the latter has horns. Disrupt adds some Amiga game play sounds into the intros, takes the bass down and then down again and then starts having fun in the mix. Although his Foundation Bit album could come across as darkly European at times in it artful dislocation of the genre the main modus operandi for the Jahtari massive these days turns out to be fun, not an attribute usually applied to dub.

Bullwackies Allstars

Black World Dub


Originally out in 1979 on Wackies' subsidiary imprint Hardwax Black World could easily fit into the label's defining African Roots series; engineered by Bullwackie but it's the hands of Leroy 'Heptone' Sibbles steering the arrangement with arranger Clive Hunt to add the final quality seal, especially evident when the title's tracks punchily emphatic horn section splits and rules the toughest rhythm on the set. Opening with "Recording Connection" uncannily adjacent to the melody of Dr. Alimantado's "Born for a Purpose" from the same year and continuing with Joe Auximite's "Trouble Land" from an abandoned vocal album, there's the expected rework of old hits. "Tribute To Studio One" updates the Heptones' "Gonna Fight" aka "Hail Don D" with a percussions workout so gymnastic that the tunes re-emerges as a modern steppers whilst "Guiding Star" twinkles twice, once when someone in the studio has the delivery of a spanking new syndrum and proceeds to practice, "Morning Star", and more regularly for "Shining Star" where he's got the hang of it. A dub version of Delroy Wilson's immortal "Rain from the Skies" closes the affair. .

Tommy McCook & the Supersonics / King Sporty

Soul Movement / For your Desire


If ever proof were needed that music lovers were sold short by the music business' lack of appreciation when it came to early Jamaican popular music then it's fully demonstrated by reissue of a series of 7" singles featuring the island's top sax man Tommy McCook, all from the in-house label of Peckings record store in London's Shepherds Bush. McCook was an original member of the Skatalites then the Supersonics, the sound behind Duke Reid's rocksteady hit machine. "Soul Movement" has McCook reworking the front half of the melody from Justin Hinds' "Carry Go Bring Come" for the tune's intro and then the vamped rhythm that ride the beat before the horns enter with a unison riff, to replaced by a Jimmy McGriff style Hammond run (either Winston Wright or "Gladdy Anderson") before the mighty McCook takes charge with commanding sax solo. On the flip, the rhythm is sped up for a King Sporty chat which comes over as almost prosaic after the instrumental. Also around are "Our Man Flint" and "Sweet Lorna".


Roots & Wire


When Scott Monteith aka Deadbeat lived in Montreal he had a Berlin label, now he's moved to Berlin he has a Montreal label. Up until late 2003, Scott worked for Montreal based company Applied Acoustics Systems, manufacturers of software synthesizers, maybe this industry link forged the connect with Robert Henke aka Monolake - and also Herr Ableton – although creatively this association is not detectable in a comparison of their musical outputs Henke has provided a "sounding board and inspiration in terms of strategies for both performance and pushing technology into the realm of real musicianship" for Monteith, they have played several joint live shows together. This new set is perhaps the most completely realised of all Deadbeat albums, its title aptly catching its intent. Collaborations with Paul St.Hilaire (ex-Tikiman) bookend the tracklist, the opener "Rise Again" a warm Rasta plaint with shimmering technodub undertow and the closer "Babylon Correction" where an expansive instrumental opening gives way to Tikiman in a vocal performance paralleling Sugar Minott at the height of his rub-a-dub phase, with a chopped and shuffling rhythm and a beautiful moment four minutes in as its dubbed out under the melodica melody. In between are six tracks that continue to resonate the deep chords between dub reggae and techno that have become the signature sound of the city of Berlin.

Dub Colossus
Dub Colossus EP


Dub Colossus is a new incarnation of Dubulah aka Nick Page, original member of both Transglobal Underground and Temple of Sound. Of the four tracks here the opener "Azmari Dub" has the most dubwise pretensions with Horns Of Negus swirling Sintayehu Zenebe intense lead vocal, followed by "Shegye Shegitu (One Drop Mix)" a call (Temerage) and response (Tsedenia and Sinteyehu) ethio-delta blues with Dubulah's slide complemented by shimmering runs from Little Axe's Skip McDonald. "Neh Yelginete" has a samba start-up, a Pharoah Sanders (in Africa) lounge sax and 60's organ solo in ethiopop style by Greek avant garde composer Jimi Papazanateas. Lastly the remarkable and startling "Ambassel in Box" is solo piano improvisation by Samuel Yirga, played on concert grand Bosendorfer piano, with a result that sounds like one hand belongs to Keith Jarrett and the other to Theolonius Monk – not for the weakheart! This project was a result of field recordings made in Addis Ababa in 2006 on a trip inspired by Buda's Ethiopiques series, recordings and selected musicians were brought back to the Real World Studios in Wiltshire for the recording of an album; perhaps the tracks on this taster are a little too rich and wildly eclectic a selection from the eventual album – dazed and confused is the effect after one listen.

Dub Gabriel

Anarchy & Alchemy


A relocation from NYC to SF has brought a degree of clarity about the things of value to be retained on this new album, Dub Gabriel's most realised and best so far, a move away from the explorations of 2005's Bass Jihad and more towards what has become a wider mainstream in the intervening years. No instrumentals here and not so much dubbing these days either, but the preoccupation with bass still dominates; opening the set is JahDan (Blakkamoore) fresh from the We Are Raiders E.P. with Matt Shadetek and DJ/Rupture in upscale smooth bashment style on "Chasing the Paper" followed by Karen Gibson Roc spat spoetics on "Spirit Made Flesh" which, to my ears, utilises a direct and intelligent lift of a Scratch produced female vocal scat from Superape days on a Black Ark style shifting shuffle rhythm – perhaps the highlight of the set if it weren't for the presence of REM's Michael Stipe on a reverential reading of Suicide's "Cheree" – with an string arrangement that at time evokes an early Velvet's dissonance. Juakali's jump-up "Mashup" has an urgency that makes an understanding of the lyric unnecessary whilst the centrepiece of the set, Judith Juileratt's "La Vie Senvole" has minimally undulating electric keys straight out of a Martin Rev tutuorial but with the nouveaux doo wop styling replaced by a dolorously whispered tale in French. All these are enough for the memory of the weaker, some might say iller, tracks to evaporate by the album's end.

Mungo's Hi Fi

The Sound System Champions


Glasgow's Mungo's Hi Fi first surfaced in 2001 via the now dormant Dubhead label, releasing tracks such as "Wickedness" and "Ing" on compilations and vinyl that took some time to hit but left impressions positive enough for the outfit to carry on. Like many other UK nu roots acts they were fired up by dub, slowly building a hardworking reputation to the extent that this, apart from a showcase set in 2002 shared with Brother Culture, is their first album. Of the twelve tracks all feature different vocal line-ups and stylistically it's almost a reggae primer, running through ska and rocksteady, roots, rub-a-dub, digi-roots and bashment dancehall, though no dub – maybe a companion is on its way. Kenny Knots and Mikey Murka from Unity Sounds 80s' vintage continue their renaissance, as do UK MCs Tippa Irie and Top Cat, Ranking Joe and Italy's Marina P, but its Suncycle, London's answers to Ward 21, who blow the lid of the thing on "Around the World" with a jump-up shout to globalised riddim and Glasgow's own female MC Soom-T from Monkeytribe who delivers the one modern feeling track on the set with "Did you Really Know".