Review: ZamZam Sounds has been killing it of late, with Rider Shafique, Ishan Sound and Kahn's recent "When Shall We Rise" single arguably being one of their most potent releases yet. Here they continue that fine run of form via another must-check "45", this time via the artist formerly known as Deadboy, Al Wooton. A-side "Request" offers a deliciously contemporary take on steppers/dub fusion, with ricocheting electronics, humid aural textures and echoing vocal snippets jumping around above a killer bassline and bustling drums. He continues on a similar theme with "Philo", which is the kind of weighty, club-ready dub excursion that would sit well in many house and techno sets.
Review: This expansive EP gathers together some archival tracks - some previously unreleased - from a trio of UK dub and reggae stalwarts. The A-side is all about Tena Stelin's 1992 collaboration with dub mixer Centry, "Clean Up The World" - a soulful digital reggae workout that was first featured on the pair's 1992 album "Sun & Moon". Here the original comes accompanied by two previously unheard Centry reworks, including the wonderfully heavy and delay laden "Dubplate Mix". Over on side B we're treated to three versions of Chazbo's attractive dub number "Lightning & Thunder". While the solo-laden original is cool, it's the two supremely deep and weighty dub mixes that really float our boat.
Review: The long reliable WhoDemSound imprint is once again coming correct here with a heavy 7" of futurist dub pressure. Kai Dub is the man behind the music and lays down a woodpecker like percussive line, with synths melting and drifting off to the horizon as the fat bottom drums wiggle below. Oodles of echo and revel make the track as full as you could imagine, then the flip side dub does away with the lead to really drag you down into the depths of bass. These are two rolling rhythms that you will never want to end.
Review: The Monotrones are Hans Kirschner and Stephan Rendke, and dub doesn't come much more spaced out and eerie than this under the radar gem. It's a loveable oddity on the Sojus label powered by a distinctive Monotron and first landed in 2018, quite possibly from another dimension. "Zuckerfee" has a tongue in cheek ballet sample that shows the pair have a sense of humour, while "MsidS" is a heavy weight stepper. "Return Of A Spacecowboy" traps you in suspense and echo and "Sojus 31" is a fairground ride in the stars.
Review: Eastern Roots have built up a small but well formed discography since debuting 2012. It was in 2018 that this particular wax first landed and is now made available again during these red hot days of summer 2020. "Signs Of The Times" is a playful and mysterious jam which is in no hurry to go anywhere, instead looping the same flute lines up top and natty chords over hot-stepping drums. A meandering lead does eventually join the party and only serves to heighten to the trip. On the flip, two different versions strip things back in brain frying and dubbed out ways.
Review: Vivian Jackson's "Conquering Lion" is a bona fide roots classic often thought as of a cornerstone of the genre. It is superbly spiritual music from a higher plane that will uplift your soul whilst also awakening your brain. It features harmonies supplied by The Ralph Brothers with keys that are always there, nagging away in beautiful fashion. As well as the full vocal on the a-side, Kind Tubby steps up for a huge dub on the flip that encourages you to utterly let go and one which dub techno fans will know has been reworked by Steve O'Sullivan to Miller effect .
Review: Vivian Jackson's work is being reissued a few times this month. Pressure Sounds opt for his "Run Come Rally" from 1992. It is a stone cold classic of the early roots ear and on the flip is a nicely twisted dub version that retains the vocal but does plenty of trippy things to it with endless amounts of echo and reverb. Recorded by Lee Perry at Black Ark Studios in 1974, this is the sort of haunting tune that is also hugely stirring and has atmosphere to spare. Comes in a hand stamped bag.
Banton (feat akae Beka & Fikir Amlak - dub) (4:36)
Mighty Negus (feat Benji Revelatio & Dan I) (4:00)
Mighty Negus (feat Benji Revelatio & Dan I - dub) (4:00)
Review: Back in May, Paolo Baldini DubFiles teamed up with hot stepping international sound system crew Imperial Sound Army for a new record entitled Dolomites Rockers. It was led by singer and soundman Dan I, and produced 22 cuts for the real dub heads. Now a selection of the joints from it are served up on their own red hot and seriously heavy 12". There is a fine mix of analog and digital techniques and organic hooks all finished with a future facing synth sound and no messing sense of bass heavy groove on display here. The chest beating "Mighty Negus" (feat Benji Revelatio & Dan I) is the pick for us.
Review: For their latest release, Jah Fingers has dipped into the digital catalogue of long-running Abi Shanti and Iration Steppas favourite TNT Roots. Both tracks showcased here were first featured on the British producer's "Raw Dubplate Warrior Style" CD-R way back in 2010. A-side "Elohim" is a particularly cosmic and spiritual take on digi-dub, with spacey electronic motifs and exotic synth sounds echoing away atop a slow and low bassline and head-nodding drums. Over on the flip, "Verse II" is a heavier and more dubbed-out affair where delay-laden keyboard riffs and similarly sci-fi sounds echo across another killer bassline and hypnotic beat.
Review: The always on point iNdicia Dubs invite you to get down to their latest riddim at the hands of Kibir La Amlak. Entitled '"Ancient Pulse" this new vinyl only missive has an enacting lead line that flutters away over this label's trademark drums: they are neon, steel plated, contemporary and do a good job of making you move. A tripper dub takes care of the A1 while on the flip there are even more whacked out versions with endless echo and reverb and natty keys, while "Divine Timing" is driven by a drilling bassline that burrows superbly deep.
Review: Kibir La Amlak is coming on strong in June with not one but two new offerings on regular home Indicia Dubs. "Lion Step" is another fresh and forward looking four track 10" with a thoroughly futurist twist on the tried and tested dub template. The shimmering leads glisten like buildings in some high rise metropolis, while the snaking leads and stoner effects all add to the escapism. The titular track leads proceedings in slick fashion, while "Lioness Step" slows down to a more meditative pace, with swagger bass for company.
Review: London sound system crew, live show and record label Kibir La Amlak, founded in 2009 by Jamie JT Thomas, has been busy of late, and the fruits of their labour are now shining through with a third EP on Indica Dubs in June alone. "Eye | Eye" is the most dreamy and detached dub of the recent run of offerings. It has almost nostalgic leads up top, shining bright on a summer's day while smooth bass shapes and wavy drum lines all sinking you into something of a reverie. Various iterations come from the other three dubs, meaning there is something for every mood and setting.
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: Basscomesaveme's first serving of 2020 is an essential one from Leipzig based dub enforcer and Plug Dub Soundsystem founder Toni Wobble. He also runs the Sunplugged Soundsystem, which runs off solar power, and is a master reggae producer who holes up in the Kngagge Studio. This cut shows off four serious tracks that exhibit masterful dubbing techniques next to deep atmospherics and tripped out grooves. They are all thoroughly contemporary but pay subtle homage to the great masters and that's what makes them so essential. The finest example of this might just be "Dub Under Pressure", which is perfect to lose your mind in.
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: Sumac Dub's recent album gets a high quality 2 x 12" vinyl issue here complete with plastic protection silver instead of blister pack to limit useless plastic waste. The tunes are superbly story telling, with the hypotonic and exotic leads of "Le Chant du Sirli feat Art-x" immediately transporting you to another world. "Daraya" is perfectly cavernous dub and "Lost in Kavir" layers up acoustic guitar riffs on top of digi-dub beats. The various interludes add sweet details to the overall flow of the album which make it all the more essential to listen to in one session.
Break All The Walls & Build Bridges (feat Tenor Youthman) (4:12)
The Living Word (4:27)
Fever (feat Eva Keyes) (3:23)
My People (feat Block Mameli) (3:16)
Even Clouds Stop To Look (feat Sista Awa) (3:10)
Omo Kibish (feat Nai-Jah) (3:41)
Whip Lash Crack (feat Sista Awa) (4:25)
Black Rain (feat Ras Tinny & Nai-Jah) (3:47)
Show Me The Way (feat Cian Finn) (2:47)
Dear Dub (3:57)
Break All The Walls And Build Dubs (3:59)
The Living Dub (3:46)
Dub Fever (3:24)
My Dub (3:32)
Even Clouds Stop To Dub (3:20)
Omo Dub (3:49)
Whip Lash Dub (3:38)
Black Rain Dub (3:37)
When We Were Free (feat Sista Awa) (5:27)
Review: As the Steppa Records label celebrates turning 10, they do so in the best way possible by unleashing this new album from Alpha Steppa. A record of vocal dub lushness, it has a starkly avant-hard sound that explores everything from bass music to trap, hip hop to trad forms, and carries, as always, crucial messages that we all need to hear. Climate crisis, socio-political issues, roots, culture and spirituality all come up and the grooves keep on rolling, inking you ever further into a vital and visceral world of thoughtful dub.
Review: Alpha and Omega are UK dub pioneers who played a key role in developing the sound on these shores. They worked together in the 1980s and were hugely prolific, putting out more than 30 albums in all. Shadrach, Meshach And Abednego is their latest cult offering and shows a fine return to their best. Full of mystical leads and shimmering chords, icy cold drums and haunting pads, it is underpinned by rock solid bass with some of the greatest conscious reggae vocalists of our time; Danny Red, Joseph Lalibela, Wellette Seyon, Ras Tinny and Nai-Jah all on board.
Review: For Those Who Understand is a collection of raw dubs as played on the Boom Shacka Lacka Sound System between 1991 and 1995. Eight of the best have been collated for this hard hitting long player which is often spoken about as something of a classic of the genre. Each of the tracks has been twisted, tweaked and laden with plenty of effects so that synths squeal and you can really feel the bass in your chest. Some rumble on like a weighty elephant, others strike you over the head like a hammer, but the impact either way is inedible.
Song To Bob (feat Aston "Familyman" Barret & Aston Junior) (4:29)
Right Time Come (3:10)
Pretty Stranger (5:41)
Les Eaux Sauvages (feat Nina Vitalia) (3:32)
O Sopro De Inae (feat Alessandra De Queiroz) (3:23)
Find A Way Home (feat Alessandra De Queiroz) (3:28)
Praying For The Angels (feat Alessandra De Queiroz) (3:54)
Blessings From The Last Ark (feat Ashanti Roy & Watty Burnett & Kenroy Fyffe) (3:41)
Ancestor Spirit Dance (3:36)
Review: The rhythms for this new labour of love from Praying for the Angels were recorded olds cool fashion, in just one clean take. Those were then embellished with Puraman on vocals and guitar, Boris Perck on bass, drums from Xan Albrecht and Wouter Rosseel on lead guitar while the records mesmerising synths all come from Bos Debusscher. Along the way there are sojourns into psychedelic rock, jazzed up reggae, heart warming love songs and plenty of spiritual anthems, afrobeat gems, deep rolling roots and more besides.