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.