CLONES & FALSE PROPHETS
With a primary focus on the fusion of dub with Middle East beats on first take Badawi could be mistaken for a 'coffee-table version' of Muslimgauze, but the development through to this, his fifth album, has Raz Mesinai standing alone. Clearly bearing the marks of his involvement with New York City's downtown experimental and improvisational set, mainly based around the club Tonic, with evidence from the exquisite guitar lines of Mark Ribot winding sinuously around the rhythms and John Zorn collaborator Doug Wieselman on clarinet. At once tough and meditative Badawi claims back the 'trance' title from all those lame house DJs. With ADF and others searching Morocco and Algeria for newly energised beats evidence that more challenging fusions are not far away.
REMEMBERING COUNT OSSIE - A RASTA 'REGGAE' LEGEND
MOODISC RECORDS INTERNATIONAL HM50100 LP/CD
As the assembled ragged brass section of Count Ossie begins to swing and shuffle it could be a 50's session from Jay McShann, Illinois Jacquet or any other US r'n'b outfit, but then the deep bass drum of the Wareikas pulses in, the sound gets humid and the studio real cloudy. Producer Harry Mudie has documented many of he foundation drummer's earliest sides from the 50's and 60's giving proof to the claim that the legendary Oswald "Count Ossie" Williams was responsible for the infusion of African drumming and chanting into reggae that came to fruition in the work of Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus and then African Head Charge. The tunes here consist of vocal, drum and brass echoing New Orleans and West Africa all at one time. It's difficult though to understand the reasoning behind Mr. Mudie's decision to add overdubs to some tracks clearly detracting from their purity and purpose, especially the chant "Babylon Gone". The CD version has five extra tracks including a remix of "Gun Fever".
GOLDEN STATE OF DUB
Americans with a sense of irony and disdain can often turn out to be difficult to work out as they can easily defy all expectations. This 2001 album from L.A.'s Future Pigeon is worth seeking out as an early clue to their perverse direction. Roy Corduroy, Lou Weed, Brandon Iron et al have been known to support Mikey Dread and have been mixed by the Scientist down at the city's Dub Club. Recorded in 1998 through 1999 the band have probably moved on by now, but there's nuff fulfilled references here to qualify them a the US dub mavericks, "Gunslingers" has the pre-Morricone western guitar style a la Ventures, with other titles like "Fall of the House of Dub" and "Hall of the Mountain Dub" their agenda is clear wisely avoiding vocals and steering clear of that monkey on the back of most American bands dabbling in Jamaican music - ska.
DUBS FROM THE HIGHER REGIONZ
Known as Kitachi they once threatened dents in the dance mainstream but over the past few years they have only been in evidence in sound system appearances and with the odd single, so the release of this album is well overdue for one of the UK's premier nu dub acts. The set features all previously unreleased tracks stress tested on the dancefloor plus the best of their singles releases from the past two years - some in new versions. The CD format differs in that it carries intros inserted between each track, derived mainly from live Iration gigs giving a continuous 'live' feel. Outings for the voices of UK roots stalwart Tena Stelin as well as Mark Iration himself, the CD version includes the vocal version of 'Locks' from the recent Dubhead 10" EP.
ZERO GRAVITY/BLACK EYE
EIDETIC-AUDIO RECORDS E1084
Swedish artist Anders Bergman met studio engineer Zak Phillips at a Jah Shaka gig in 1996 and they colluded to make future dub music. These two tracks date from 2001 and are a result of combining a hands-on dub mix with subsequent digital processing. Consequently there's a warm, contemporary acoustic feeling at play that can almost be called "English style", think of Lee Berwick's Digi Dub as a tangential forerunner and we can begin to develop an English School of Nu Warm Dub. The lowercase klig are currently working with guitarist Tim Shields on new music that in a pre-emptive strike is forecasted to be "nothing like Pole".
HARRY MUDIE MEETS KING TUBBY IN DUB CONFERENCE VOLUME 1
MOODISC RECORDS HM108LP/CD
As night follows day there is usually an expectation that the word heavyweight must also follow the word dub as an indicator of the music's potential to alter the operations of both mind and body. This notion is alien to the world of Harry Mudie, a producer whose work always tended to the tuneful, restrained and classy - even when visiting r'n'b style workouts. There is a whole stack of represses newly available out of Harry's set up in Florida, both vinyl and CD, including a set of three dub albums where he set Tubbs to work on some of his classic rhythms from 1976 through 1978 - Rome, Drifter, Heart Don't Leap, Love Without Feeling. It's this last one, a Heptones' tune that the Dubmaster converts into one of his most accomplished creations Dub with a Difference where a string quartet is drafted into the studio and dubbed up in jaw-dropping style.
THE RING CRAFT POSSE
ST. CATHERINE IN DUB 1972 - 1984
Moll-Selekta clocks up their tenth release with "St. Catherine In Dub", a collection of the best dubs from the Seventies and early Eighties by producer Rodguel "Blackbeard" Sinclair and the studio band the Ring Craft Posse. Blackbeard, Tappa Zukie's brother, was Bunny Lee's right hand man for many years and now owns Tubby's old studio in Kingston. The brief existence of the Ring Craft Posse meant they never quite achieved the fame of the Aggrovators or the Revolutionaries, although their line-up included Jamaica's elite session musicians on drums Sly Dunbar and Mikey Boo Richards, on bass Robbie Shakespeare and Lloyd Parks and crack (sic) horn section of Bobby Ellis, Nambo, Dean Fraser and David Madden. The opening track "West Bay" is based on the Burning Spear's rhythm from his Studio One days known as "Joe Frasier"; other dubs gathered here are versions of songs by Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, George Faith and Horace Andy. The tracks are named after districts of Portmore in the St. Catherine region of Jamaica, as reflected in the old map of Jamaica on the inner pages of the cover. No little fuss generated by the appearance of this album and its musical validity, but the cuts are kosher.
HAIL RASTAFARI DUB
SIP A CUP SIPLP003 VINYL ONLY
Since his early days engineering sides for the late lamented UK Fashion label, an early supporter of the 10" vinyl format, Gussie P's talents have gone largely unrecognised outside of the hardcore reggae fraternity. A shame that the strictly limited pre-release of this spanking collection of Sip-A-Cup label dub cuts will do little to alter that situation as it's a prime example of inventively militant modern dub-out master at work. Michael Prophet's voice echoes through a horn-laden cover of the Wailers/Perry classic "Rainbow Country", tape rewinds take us into a schizoid digi-version of "Billie Jean" and just refuse to go away; other rhythm staples follow including a take on "Poor Marcus" where Gussie P savagely whacks the echo spring in tribute to Tubby.
SLY & ROBBIE
UNMETERED TAXI - SLY AND ROBBIES TAXI PRODUCTIONS
PRESSURE SOUNDS PSCD/LP43
"Unmetered Taxi" concentrates on the earlier Taxi productions of the drum and bass duo who were to become known as the Riddim Twins. One of the few distinctive production sounds in reggae from the early eighties Sly and Robbie were tempted into work with major stars, most notably Bob Dylan and most creatively with Grace Jones, with the result that sometimes their homegrown work tended to be unjustly ignored. Certainly the Tamlins' version of Randy Newman's "Baltimore" is as fine a production that emerged in any genre throughout that decade and then the dub just goes on and takes it to a sublime level. All the tunes here are strong enough to carry the versions that follow making this set yet another one to provoke arguments on selection, but with the Viceroy's "Hearts Made of Stone", the Wailing Souls' "Old Broom" and Jimmy Riley's "Love and Devotion" I am not arguing. Suffice to say it's unmissable for Sly & Robbie fans if only for the artwork and the inclusion of the Dennis Brown dubplate version of "Revolution". Go for the vinyl - it's a deep cut double, and the great early 80s pix, courtesy of photographer and Jammy biographer Beth Lesser, look that much better.
STEREOTYP MEETS AL'HACA
KLEIN 12" VINYL KL049
Last year Stereotyp's debut album "My Sound" on G-Stone Records forced nu r'n'b stylings into the folds of mid-European electro-reggae with the lately named Tikiman amongst others more soul-based singers. Viennese producer Stefan Moerth now teams up with the similarly inclined Al-Haca Soundsystem but the result veers away from sonic miscegenation to rampantly pure dancehall. Of the four tracks one stands out as bold enough to command the whole piece multiple version style, "Boss It" features the resurfacing JA DJ Hawkeye who at one time promised to rule returning to fulfil his destiny in a plainly ridiculous but irresistible piece of dumb-ass braggadocio on top of a pulsing rhythm producing the effect of being metronomically punched on the ears by a pinpoint-accurate prize-fighter. One round is enough. Compared to this Polish DJ MC RQM on "Watch Me Flip" is lame and laughable and the efforts from Lady Saw and Shagon routine.
BARCELONA IN DUB
DECODER MUZIQUE DECCD002
An album that opens with a dubwise accordion sound (Hey's "Good Luck") has a lot going for it as far as I am concerned. Unfortunately this collection, despite best intentions, gets a little a little soft in the middle and most impact is delivered by slick high-end packaging that adopts a dub aesthetic with the manipulation of images within double digipack with four sleeves representing the cardinal points of Barcelona. The associated DVD complements the heavy design focus with a dub soundtrack to a virtual tour of the city. Javier Verdes music selection veers largely to the smooth side and it's only towards the close with Roots Manuva's remix of Nightmares On Wax "'70s '80s" that we start to get energized. One for your middle-class friends to casually discover on your table.
KEN BOOTHE / U-ROY / DENNIS ALCAPONE / AUGUSTUS PABLO / ZAP POW
OLD FASHIONED WAY / DYNAMIC FASHION WAY / FAT BABY / BROKEN CONTRACT
TROJAN TJHTE014 10" VINYL
Two sides are presented here of that most innovative of Jamaican producers, Keith Hudson. Ken Boothe's "Old Fashioned Way" is one of those unstoppably upfull sounds usually only found, and rarely at that, in the publicly neglected corners of reggae - other immediate examples being the Abyssinians' Guthrie-esque "This Land is For Everyone" and Freddie McKay's delirious celebration for Channel One "Dance This Ya Festival". And Hudson could version like the best of them with DJ takes by U Roy and AlCapone that caught them both at the height of their skills. The mood changes on the flip for another exposure for the one time rarity "Fat Baby" a Pablo melodica version of Big Youth's epochal "S90 Skank" and an equally welcome outing for the leading session crew, Zap Pow. Strange though that opportunity was not taken to run four or five versions of "S90" on the piece linking up the original with its dub - to be found on Hudson's "Pick A Dub" album (Blood & Fire).