Review: The always excellently go slow and tropical sounds of Big Crown now look to Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band for covers of two classics. Up first is Grace Jones' nightclub classic "My Jamaican Guy" while on the flip is Erykah Badu's tribute to the legendary J Dilla, "The Healer". Both retain the essence of the original but come with loose hand claps, shimmering steel drums that bring coastal breezes, sand and sun into the equation and leave you laying horizontal. These are fine interpretations of top notch source material.
Review: Following on from the impressive opening statement from Modern Manners, the second installment from the hitherto unknown outfit sees the sonic remit reaching out to other influences while retaining that poised lounge attitude that made the first record so instantly endearing. "Research" is a dub track in essence, sporting ample space in the mix, the odd conga roll and sparse chords calling out into a field of reverb and delay. "Can Maneras" is a more shuffling kind of smooth jazz that aligns with the classy licks of St Germain and the like. "Serate Cosmiche" finishes the EP off on a melancholic tip that puts the synths at the front of the mix for the first time.
Review: Disco Dub Band's "For The Love of Money", a one-off collaboration between producer Davitt Sigerson and reggae musician Mike Dorane, has long been considered something of a classic by those who like their disco to come with a big dose of dub-wise flavour. Here the instrumental O'Jays cover, which originally appeared on the Movers label in 1976, is given the remix treatment by long-time fans Mr Bongo. The superb A-side, in which Dorane's instrumental talents take centre stage, naturally comes accompanied by the frequently played Dub interpretation, a typically wild and bass-heavy affair that sounds like it was mixed "live" in one take in true Lee Perry/King Tubby style. If it's not already in your collection, it should be.
Review: Way back in 1998 when Massive Attack's career-defining "Mezzanine" was first released, legendary dub technician Mad Professor cooked up some radical reworking. They now get their first official release alongside dubs of two tracks that never actually made it onto the album - Metal Banshee: a dub version of "Superpredators" which was a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Metal Postcard", and "Wire", which was actually recorded for the film "Welcome to Sarajevo". Wild effects, plenty of knob twiddling and oodles of reverb define this freaky late night collection and mark another essential release in the catalogue of the already legendary Mad Professor.
Review: Melodica maestro Augustus Pablo released a number of influential albums during a golden period in the 1970s, though little quite as ground-breaking and far-sighted as 1976's "King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown". Mixed by King Tubby, it was one of the first great dub albums and is still one of the finest examples of the stripped-back, rhythm-heavy style around. If you don't already own a copy, we'd heartily recommend picking up this reissue. Musically, the tracks sound as warm, weighty and spacious as ever - all heavy Robbie Shakespear/Family Man Barrett bass, idiosyncratic drumming and killer melodica/Clavinet/organ action from Pablo - while the screen-printed artwork is a delight.
Review: Given Massive Attack's background, it was almost inevitable that they'd release a dub overhaul of one of their albums at one point. That time came in 1995, when British sound system legend Mad Professor - responsible for some of the greatest UK-made dub records of all time - put his distinctive twist on Protection. 21 years on, the set still sounds sublime: a radical translation that frequently bares only a passing resemblance to the Bristol band's original. It's packed with highlights, from the spaced-out, dub-house rework of "Spying Glass" ("I Spy"), to the ricocheting percussion hits and twinkling pianos of "Weather Storm (Cool Monsoon)", and creepy, delay-laden string surges of "Eternal Feedback (Sly)".
Review: By the time they recorded "Songs of Praise" in 1990, African Head Charge had gone from being an Adrian Sherwood solo project to a fully-fledged band helmed by percussionist Bonjo Ivabinghi Noah. Here reissued to mark the album's 20th birthday, the set remains arguably the group's greatest single work. While rooted in the twin attractions of heavy dub and dense African percussion, the album makes extensive use of a dizzying array of influences, from gospel, steppers reggae and yacht rock, to traditional Arabic music, blues, disco, religious chants and even industrial music. This edition features a handful of decent bonus tracks, but they're unnecessary: the original album is little less than a masterpiece and should reside in every discerning listener's record collection.
Review: Soundway has high hopes for the third album by "underground super-producer" Lord Echo. That set is due to appear in early 2017, and as a taster, they've decided to drop this fine single. "Just Do You" features the vocals of Mara TK of Electric Wire Hustle fame, and is a deliciously cheery chunk of Caribbean inspired dub disco indulgence. It's accompanied by a fine Dub - which, naturally, features more tape delay and a tougher, stripped back groove - and an instrumental version. There's also a bonus cut in the shape of "Only You", which features regular Lord Echo collaborator Toby Laing, best known as a member of globe-trotting Kiwi supergroup Fat Freddy's Drop.
Raphael Green & Alimantado - "Rasta Train" (1977 Discomix) (8:42)
Review: The "Disco Devil" series is a carefully curated selection of disco mixes that were laid down in the famous Black Ark Studio run by Lee "Scratch" Perry. It was a place of legendary magic, as this series shows on its fourth instalment. All the big dogs like The Upsetters, Augustus Pablo and Junior Murvin are present with their own distinctive takes on dub. Carlton Jackson also comes correct with his soul soothing "History" while a special 7" edit of Truth Fact & Correct's "Babylon Deh Pon Fire" is a rousing anthem for serious smoking sessions.
Review: Lee Perry's classic "Disco Devil" series on Studio 16 returns with another choice selection of mixes from his famous Black Ark Studio during the years 1977, '78 and '79. Thanks to his ubiquitous "Police And Thieves", Junior Murvin became one of the most recognisable names in dub. His iconic falsetto voice appears here twice, firstly on the gently swaying deepness of opener "Cross Over" before closing out with the supple rhythms of "Memories" on the flip. There's also spaced out stuff from Twin Roots, slow motion rocksteady from Watty Burnett and Michael Campbell's excellent "Schoolgirl" in between to make this another fine package.
Review: Second time around for Vivien Goldman's inspired debut single, "Launderette", a fine chunk of no-wave era NYC heaviness that first slipped out way back in 1981. The title track is typical of New York's open-minded post-punk scene, with Goldman adding her distinctive vocals to a bass-heavy backing track big on dub bass, Melodica style flourishes and Latin-tinged percussion. Flipside "Private Armies" is a little more experimental in tone, with dubbed-out guitars and layered vocals riding an unflinchingly heavy, punk-funk style bassline and clicking, high-octane rhythm track. It's arty but impressive and arguably even more potent than the more familiar A-side.
Review: While Nat Birchall is naturally best known for his jazz work, he's no stranger to the world of dub and reggae. In fact, "Tradition Disc In Dub" is his second full-length collaboration with roots reggae musician, producer and mixer Al Breadwinner (the first, "Sounds Almighty", dropped in 2018). It's a little more spaced-out than its predecessor, with both Birchall and Breadwinner emphasizing weighty riddims, echoing instrumentation (sax, flute, organ etc.) and the kind of analogue effects that marked out the golden age of dub. In fact, the "golden age" reference is particularly relevant, because while there's plenty of subtle variety on show throughout, it's closer in tone to King Tubby and Lee 'Scratch' Perry's 1970s work than, say, Mad Professor or Iration Steppas. More importantly, it's also superb.
Review: Since launching in 2014, Portland's ZamZam Sounds imprint has offered up a string of beautifully packaged seven-inch singles from a mixture of big hitters and rising stars from the global bass music scene. Their latest missive comes from Dayzero, a Japanese dubstep producer best known for his outings on Wheel & Deal, Sentry and, most recently, Vomitspit. The two tracks here are weighty, intergalactic and otherworldly, mixing dub style rhythms with the kind of angular, razor-sharp sub-bass motifs more often associated with dancefloor dubstep. Both cuts are quality, though it's rolling A-side "Orbit Dub" - all lolloping dub beats, wobble bass, metallic effects and paranoid aural textures - that really stands out.
Review: Another week brings another Lee 'Scratch' Perry and as usual, the quality remains unbelievably high given the prolific output of the legendary studio wizard over the decades. This one is a 1975 project at the cult Black Ark Studios with house band The Upsetters and Vin Gordon across 10 tracks of organic dubs. There are sun kissed ridders next to big, horn led grooves that sink you into a stoned reverie even without having had a smoke. The playing is loose, the mood relaxed, all while plenty of magical tricks, effects and endless reverb make each track infinitely detailed.
Review: 2020 marks a decade since Sukh Gill started the Indica Dubs project, which now incorporates an online record shop, soundsystem and record label. Naturally Gill features prominently on the label's latest release, which begins with a soulful chunk of digital reggae goodness from Danny Red, "You No Better". Gill joins forces with Conscious Sounds to deliver the "Better Dub" rework, where echoing guitar motifs and delay-laden vocal snippets ride a denser and weightier revision of Red's groove. The partnership continues on side B, where the "Humble Thyself" version - an instrumental take on the EP's lead cut - is followed by the heavier, wilder and more sub-heavy "Humble Dub".
Review: This new one from Studio 16 is a dubwise companion to the recent Black Emperor Vol. 1. It's a superbly roomy collection, with endless echo and perfectly horizontal grooves rolling off to an infinite horizon making for inescapably relaxed listening. The whole thing is all killer material with high-watermarks like Jazzbo's 'Natty Pass Through Rome', Twin Roots' 'Know Love' and Bunny & Ricky's 'Freedom Fighter'. Each one was recorded at Lee Perry's Black Ark studio originally so comes with that authentic air and unmistakable mark of quality.
Review: Dub maestro Mala joins forces with prominent British writer, dub poet and Rastafarian Benjamin Zephaniah and Natty for this heavy hitting, hand-stamped 12". "I'm a bad man anyway, this is my sound" says Zephaniah with real passion as spaced out pads and delicate chords soften his battle cry, and his musings on the black man's struggle, righteousness and Rastafarianism play out in absorbing fashion. Best believe this one is going to become a real cult favourite, not least because of the exceptional sound design and sense of space inherent in any Mala tune.
Review: Mysterious Canadian dub abstractionists Seekersinternational will always keep you guessing - such is their provocative charm whether stirring up trouble on Bokeh Versions, Boomarm Nation or ICS Library. Now they make a welcome surprise drop on Max D's Future Times label, and sound right at home amongst the label's penchant for bizarro genre-agnostic mutations. There's soul, audacious sound design and luscious synths aplenty - all hallmarks of other FT releases. Of course there's a strong bedrock of Jamaican music culture informing everything, but once again the crew have delivered something distinct from their previous work. No one does it quite like Seekers, not even Seekers themselves.
Review: Napoli producer Enrico Fierro AKA Milord may not yet be quite as well known as fellow city dwellers New Guinea, but he shares the same love of cosmic synthesizer sounds, atmospheric electronics and lo-fi drum machines. "Meta/Music", his first EP for Pinchy & Friends, inhabits a similar sonic space to the Early Sounds Recordings regulars, too - or at least the synth-fuelled jazz-funk-meets-Balearic cuts "The Kemetist", "Infinite Balance" and the sparse, dubbed-out bliss of "Meta Music" do (incidentally, all three feature copious amounts of dub style delays on the drum hits, which is no bad thing). Best of all though is opener "Transcendental Experience", a slow-burning fusion of new age melodies, intergalactic electronics and minimalist drums that's worth the admission price on its own.
Review: Some five years after their last full-length hit stores, Fat Freddy's Drop has finally got round to recording a new album. Entitled "Special Edition", it's set to be released in two parts. Part one (the second will follow later in the year) begins with the slow and steady soulful skank of "Kamo Kamo", before the more digital-sounding goodness of "OneFourteen" sees them wisely pushing honeyed vocalist Joe Dukie to the fore. More jazzy reggae warmth follows via "Raleigh Twenty", while "Special Edition" is a confirmed dancefloor workout - think disco-reggae - which mixes rapped and sung vocals. There's a surprising nod to house music on the hypnotic and synth-laden "Trickle Down", while "Six-Eight (Instrumental)" is Fat Freddy's take on dancehall.
Review: London's Kibir La Amlak continues to breathe new life into the traditional sound system on this new one on WhoDemSound. He does so with respect, always, and with plenty of knowing nods to the culture. "Ascension Rock" has tons of reverb and delay and a mesmerising flute lead that floats high above the stumbling drums and tumbling toms. Flipside "Twists & Turns Dub" is a more heady workout with extra fx, analogue trickery and swagger to spare.
Review: Is there a more famous nutcase in music than Lee Scratch Perry? The legendary producer is still very much on the musical money, though, no matter how weird he gets in person. This record for Stones Throw finds him working with Peaking Lights' Aaron Coyes and Argentinian dubber Ivan Diaz Mathe on a series of heavyweight tunes that are brilliantly psychedelic. The title track is a cosmic stepper then "No Age" is a wandering dub with oodles of trippy effects and stoner leads that make way for some of his textbook vocal musings on "Magik." After immersive closer "No Age" you'll be keen to do it all again.
Review: As Galcher Lustwerk's label continues to expand at an easy pace, so this intriguing prospect arises from the lesser known Double Pelican Man. As The Nassau Sessions title might imply, this is a departure from sleek house and techno into an abstraction of the island boogie sound, taking some cues from digi-dub and 80s dancehall but offsetting it with a final mix that is all its own. "Jet Ski" is a perfect slice of canned dub for mellow heads, and "Sweet Genius" is the pick for a more audacious application of delay and reverb, but the bass on "Shit To Buy" makes it the standout track on this collection of dubwise jams.
Review: Indica Dubs bring their three part series to a close with another stellar edition. It is the in-house team and Vibronics who link up here for "Timbuktu". Vibronics first landed on the label three years ago and in that time have become key associates. This latest is actually the first time the label boss has produced directly with Vibronics and the results speak for themselves. The track is a heavyweight number with bold leads and flabby bass that makes you move. The dub plate mix is down and dirty as the lead is swiped, filtered and twisted into something much more menacing. It marks a fine finale to this series.
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