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: The Kingstonians were a relatively short-lived Jamaican band whose greatest work was produced by Derek Harriott between 1968 and '70. It was at the tail end of this period that they recorded their sole album, "Sufferer", an early reggae classic featuring a swathe of sought-after cuts. It's from that set that these two tracks are taken. For the record, both have appeared on 7" singles before, but are so hard to find that collectors are willing to spend up to 500 Euros to find original copies. A-side "Hold Down" is particularly potent, with the vocal trio's fuzzy vocals rising above a killer early reggae rhythm much in Hammond organ stabs, warm bass and clipped guitars. "Nice, Nice" meanwhile is a more up-tempo affair that gives a little more prominence to a typical early reggae guitar riff. Together the two tracks make for a suitably scintillating package.
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: Dub heads will be keen to cop this hard to find, long out of print Winston McAnuff tune 'What A Man Sow.' This is its first time on 7". Only 500 have been pressed and it comes with a full colour sleeve as well as a tasty dub on the flip from Fatman Riddim Section. The main attraction though is the a-side, with its impassion vocals crying out up top and bearing plenty of raw and honest soul. Shakers and swaggering dub, reverberating bass and acoustic guitar riffs all colour in the airwaves in warm and welcoming ways.
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: Lee Perry's studio band was famously known as The Upsetters but also recorded as Black Ark Players, named after his famous studio. This is their one and only album and it first landed in 1980 as another part in the infinite musical puzzle around Lee Perry. The previously hard to find record marks the end of one era and the start of another as it came right at the start of the demise fo the studio. It is built on a bedrock of heavy beats and bass, with spooky dub styles and spacey synth styles that add layers of intrigue that never let up.
Review: 17 North Parade continues to serve up reissues of Black Ark material following the Black Ark Players's one and only album. This time they look to the second volume of cuts recorded at the legendary Lee Scratch Perry studio in the 70s and 80s. In house band The Upsetters feature next to Perry himself as well as Silvertones and Coral Cole. Plenty of heavy bass undermines the tunes while some drift into summery, flute lead territory for the mind, and others get dark and dirty. The Inamans's cover of "how Deep Is Your Love" is a personal favourite here.
Descanse/ADMSDP/Juntos/Mmmm (feat LA Warman) (22:10)
Review: DJ Python's hypnotic take on dembow is second to none. The New York DJ and producer can send you wild with the slowest of tempos and does that again here on his second superb album on Incienso. His tactile drum programming weaves and wanders beneath the most bendy and gooey of synth lines. The tension between those percolating drums and the star gazing keys and pads up top is what makes his music so enthralling - life is slowed to a crawl and everything seems to take on more beauty and resonance as a result. Tracks here are variously coloured with eerie vocal samples, field recordings or deconstructed jungle percussion, and every single one snakes its way into your mind, body and soul. "Mas Amable" may just be one of the albums of the year.
Review: Most reggae scholars agree that dub maestro Lee 'Scratch' Perry was at his musical best during the period he spent working at the Black Ark studio. Two of the last albums recorded at the studio before it burned down in 1979 were "Black Ark In Dub" volumes one and two, which were eventually released in 1980 and '81 respectively. Here they're gathered together on CD for the first time. Volume 1 (disc one) sees Perry offer up weighty, spooky and out-there dubs of backing tracks created by his regular studio band, the Black Ark Players. Disc two expands on the more vocal-focused - but no less dubbed-out - sequel, showcasing alternate takes and extended mixes of popular Perry-produced singles from the period. In a word: essential.
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.