Art-X meets The Roots Addict: Polarity

First of all: Art-X, the musician, has absolutely nothing to do with the large Austrian erotic supermarket chain of the same name. The man from Tours has taken on the Melodica like Augustus Pablo and has been booming for a few years - if the reviewer is allowed to formulate it a bit brashly. Whereby “to trot” can definitely be the wrong verb, especially since experts are unlikely to be sure whether the melodica is a wind or keyboard instrument. In any case, the technical principle is the same as that of the harmonica. The name “Melodica” and the instrument itself were invented by the long-established Hohner company in Trossingen, Germany - or in other words: by the world market leader for harmonica and accordions. Augustus Pablo, Addis Pablo, Art-X: They all play or played Hohner Melodicas.

Well, you could of course now note that such a melodica is a very easy to play, excellent for children and also extremely inexpensive entry-level instrument. That's right, and after doing research for this review, I'm very tempted to do something like that - from drummer to melodica player, why not? No more lugging around a drum kit, just drop in a stylish case and blow it carefully into the mouthpiece. Making music can be so easy ...

... or not: blowing into a melodica and pressing the right note key at the right time is of course not enough. There are also the most diverse varieties and techniques to get the best out of the instrument - like those interested in Video by James Howard Young be able to understand impressively. And then there is the possibility of indulging in the simplicity of the instrument, capturing the perfect mood in the minor key and turning the whole thing into a timeless one, carried by an excellent riddim Dub-Masterwork to transform - Evidence: Augustus Pablo's "King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown"(Aka" Cassava Piece "). It couldn't be better, hands down. Pablo himself was audibly not the great virtuoso, but he had an unmistakable feeling for the instrument and its possibilities in the genre - and has refined almost all classic JA riddims with one or the other version. His father's shoes are still a few sizes too big for his son, Addis Pablo, who also plays melodica - his musical output seems disoriented, the quality may not level off and fluctuates considerably between respectable and  miserable. Time will tell if he can live up to his father's legacy.

And then there would be the Art-X mentioned above, currently the personified France branch, so to speak, within the rather small reggae melodica world. As a co-founder of Ondubground and the web label ODGProd. By no means a stranger to the reggae electronica scene, he has been doing his own melodica thing since 2014. The first releases seem a bit awkward; the combination of digital backing tracks and melodica doesn't really ignite: when cold meets warm, the result is sometimes just a mild breeze. However, it looks very different when Art-X embarks on the adventure of a live band - as here with The Roots Addict:

That fits, sits & holds; has energy, exudes vibes and leaves that Dubhead happily with your eyes closed. We all know this deep feeling of oneness with the music, the bass, with echo and reverb. Fortunately, the Art-X / The Roots Addict team is also doing well in the studio, as you can see on their latest release "Polarity“(ODGprod.) Can listen. Cleverly conceived as a 6 track EP, the risk of melodica overkill is very low. The original riddims in the classic arrangement were allowed to keep their natural dynamics in the mixdown, which is particularly evident in a (sometimes almost too) present kick drum. All in all a rock-solid release, over which, thanks to the melodica, there is always a touch of melancholy; which even comes up with one or the other surprising audio snippet, but ultimately lacks some variety in the band arrangements in the overall impression. Art-X's previous album "Nomad“: Here the backing tracks come from different bands who, with their different arrangements and musical energies, ensure that monotony or even boredom has no chance.

So is a second Augustus Pablo growing up? Probably not, thinks the reviewer - Art-X (still) lacks musical personality, an unmistakable style; a certain mystique that gave Pablo's game and his recordings this special atmosphere. And of course: The vibes of the 1970s and the combination King Tubby / Augustus Pablo created recordings in JA which, due to their uniqueness, defy comparison anyway. In this respect, a second Augustus Pablo would make no sense today - but an original, independently developing Art-X.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

9 responses to "Art-X meets The Roots Addict: Polarity"

That was clear again! Who pegged the melodica? The Germans ! My compatriots! Just as crazy as everyone else in the world. And the Jamaicans make it something of a cult. (Must be that again now, lemmi / yes sorry, I slipped out like that again).
However, according to the order of the reviews, Art-X is now due for comment. I'll keep the best for last, I thought. Art-X has seen me several times
carried away to true storms of enthusiasm. I didn't realize that he was just a melodica player. I always thought that he also built the riddims completely himself. I also didn't realize that The Roots Addict is a real band. I am long out of the age where ADD is given as a diagnosis, but I could swear that I was or am a pretty serious case from birth. If I had been more attentive, I could have realized long ago that he doesn't build the riddims himself.
But now there is also a small problem for me in terms of Art - X. The first tune that I consciously noticed from him was “Dready Walk” from “Under Me Culcha”!
And then I'm already with my little problem. “Under me Culcha” was almost achieved in some cases, but in terms of Art - X it remains the measure of all things for me. The excellent audio sample “Rising Sun”, which is beyond (almost) any doubt, is from my favorite Art X record. A couple more DubIt would have effects in this case
like to be again.
Yes, and then comes this “polarity”. My anticipation was probably a bit too great. Sounds - to me - not nearly as crisp as "Under me Culcha". The riddims are too banal for me, stink normal "everyday reggae whispering" of the European kind. And I would love to escape everyday life when I Dub or listen to music.
I would probably only have to look at a fraction of all Dubs care if you don't have that much DubI would make records with basslines that leave me so cold that I shiver. Well, that's not as bad as it sounds now, but I have to exaggerate a little sometimes to make my feelings a little more
To give transparency.

Any questions ? ;-) …………………… lemmi

All questions answered, lemmi ;-)

I see “Polarity” similar to you, but I would use the more varied “Nomad” album for comparison. There the basslines are a little more catchy, I mean.

Right gtkriz!

The "Nomad" is really great too!

I'm almost sorry again that my comment was so negative. I actually like everything about Art - X, but there are just small lows and highs
and in direct comparison the “polarity” is a little “lower”.

“When I get low I get high” ……………………. lemmi

The most important thing is missing, or have I left it? Namely how this instrument sounds. That can only be one sound and it annoys me just as quickly as harmonica or violin (in popular music mind you) that is why it can be as perfect as it wants, it gives me a headache: D How many tracks with Melodica can you listen to in a row? Kind regards, Doc

"How many tracks with Melodica can you listen to in a row?"

Hehe, I am always happy when my suffering is shared by others. “A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved” is always the saying. Well, it will probably be of no use to us in this case.
In particular, I don't get along when the melodica is used as a “supporting instrument” in the whole tune or the entire disc. I hear a maximum of two tunes /Dubs one after the other. When the melodica has a little solo in between
I have no problem at all. A little violin solo can be the same
like harmonica. For me, the guitar is the only suitable “supporting instrument” for a piece of music. The trumpet also works but a disc for over an hour, then it is often difficult. Otherwise you can come to me with any instrument, except the "Indian Wuwuseela" - the part with which you always fool the deaf snakes or the audience. The mouth organ is not that loud anyway and is - for my taste - one A for Dub. I also find a didjeridu (you already know what I mean) really crazy here and there, because its hypnotic effect
also a perfect symbiosis with Dub As I said, everything goes, nothing has to ......

But I think Art-X's backings are so great that I can't ignore them under any circumstances. Actually not like that dubbig but also really crisp as an instrumental.

"Fight The Power" …………………. lemmi

6 tracks, Doc ... there are exactly 6 tracks that you can listen to one after the other: D

In fact, it depends on where and how the melodica is embedded in the final mix. When it is “on top” - that is, it leaves all other instruments behind, in terms of volume, as it were “in your face!”, Then it sucks. But if it is nicely and volume-wise embedded in an appropriate ratio to the other instruments in the mix, then the whole thing looks different. The latter is of no use if the loudness madness is celebrated during the final mastering and highs and lows are sacrificed ... then the part screeches again in the middle :(

Then of course there is also the possibility of turning down the obtrusive highs and mids on the Melodica's mixing board ... of course that works with all instruments and often brings amazing results. For example, you can give a tinny guitar warm volume or, conversely, give a dull instrument its tonal sharpness.

Of course, all of this only if the musician and / or producer wants it ... oh well.

That's true! my Dubgod Paolo Baldini would probably integrate such an instrument into a mix in the most elegant way. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that in my (Catholic) past as an altar boy etc these “rhythmic measures” were so popular: D and the main instruments were always recorders and melodica; I will probably associate this sound with it forever! But my displeasure also comes from the inability of augustus pablos, which you well described - I just don't hear his talent, I just hear that in his many years as a musician he never tried to find any nuances in his playing: D and his son I'll just save myself. But as always: I have the music journalist's disease of immediate rejection, but a little later I always get curious, so who knows? maybe I'll start playing myself LOL but as Lemmy writes, you can do a little solo here and there, the melodica dan is also in its "right" place, at least for us troubled listeners ...

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