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Review

Alborosia: Dub Pirate

The Dub-Alborosie's albums have rarely convinced me. Of course I admire his technical skills and his fixation on analogue equipment also earns me recognition. But his previous Dub-Albums seemed too textbook to me. They lacked creativity, excitement and, above all, the intention to override the rules of good taste. Perhaps the Dubs underlying productions are not strong enough. That is exactly what Alborosie avoids with his latest Dub-Plant: "Dub Pirate” (Evolution Media), because it is based on the outstanding album “Soul Pirate” from 2008, with which he made his breakthrough as a reggae artist. And rightly so, because it is still a brilliant album, but to this day there is no Dubversion. Crazy, since Alborosie is a big fan of Dub and studio work. We don’t know what prompted him now, 18 years later, to grab the old tracks and Dubs from it - of course with his historic studio equipment, which previously belonged to King Tubby or Coxsone Dodd. Alborosie not only uses the equipment of these legends, but also cultivates the aesthetics of his great role models. Therefore, it is not surprising that "Dub Pirate” was mixed in the style of King Tubby. Generous use of echo effects, masterful manipulation of high and low pass filters, virtuoso switching on and off of various instrumental tracks as well as some heavy sound manipulation. On “Dub In his new album “Pirate”, Alborosie is much more aggressive, even radical, with the original recordings. There is no comparison to his later Dub-albums. Perhaps the historical distance to the material was needed to deal with it “destructively”. Dubs of "Dub Pirate” are all remarkable, all killer, no filler. Nevertheless, some stand out in particular. Z. B. "Quiet Dub Blazing”, with the strong echo effects on the guitar that create a surreal and gripping atmosphere. Or “Precious Dub“, a piece that cleverly focuses on the wind section and its powerful, extremely creatively manipulated sounds are fascinating. A particular strength of “Dub Pirate” is undoubtedly the creative deconstruction of Alborosie’s greatest hits. Always nice to recognize echoes of well-known songs and their Dubreconstruction. Fortunately, Alborosie largely avoids the use of vocal snippets. The album particularly shines with “Natural Dub Mystic”, the Dub-Reinterpretation of his collaboration with Kymani Marley. This strong riddim was predestined for a Dub-Treatment, and Alborosie executes it absolutely masterfully. The heart of the track lies in the driving bass line and the recurring brass sections, which are enveloped by crazy swirling, spatial sound effects. A fascinating Dubexperience – like the album as a whole.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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Review

The Loving Paupers & Victor Rice: The Ghost of Ladders

A year after their acclaimed album “Ladders”, the Loving Paupers from Washington DC release an extremely beautiful one Dub-version of the same: “The Ghost of Ladders” (Easy Star Records) - a title that all too obviously refers to the legendary Burning Spear album "Garvey's Ghost" and thus inevitably raises the level of expectation to the maximum. But with none other than Victor Rice handling the remix duties here (he also engineered “Ladders”), there's a strong chance that expectations will be met. Sure, his music isn't what you would play on a sound system. Somehow his sound - especially in contrast to Burning Spear - always sounds a little too light, too poppy, too much like ska. But for the sofa at home, or as a headphones accompaniment on your daily journey through the city, they are his Dubs wonderful music. Legendary British DJ Don Letts described the Loving Paupers' original sound as being influenced by 40s pop and XNUMXs reggae - a mix that made their music uniquely resonant. Which he is absolutely right about. I definitely had to think of UBXNUMX or Hollie Cook while listening to it. The sound is of course miles away from the repetitive, sappy Lovers Rock. It's pop reggae in the best sense. The question now is: what will happen? Dub-Mix of it? Known to be a treatment that generally gives pieces more gravity and grounding. What will be left of the light pop appeal? The answer is: exactly the right dose! “The Ghost of Ladders” is simply a super pleasant one Dubalbum that reveals the complex arrangements of the recordings and reveals the true quality of the music, which in the original could hide all too well behind Kelly Di Filippo's bright vocals. And as the singing disappears, the pop flair is significantly reduced. The allusion to "Garvey's Ghost" is perhaps a bit too exaggerated, but an analogy becomes clear: while "Ladders" is a nice pop-reggae album, "The Ghost of Ladders" really unfolds Dub-Magic - exactly that indescribable quality that Burning Spears also has Dubalbum elevated to the status of a cult work. Rice's masterful Dub-Mix uses the familiar ingredients of reverb and delay to transform the familiar into something completely new and otherworldly. “The Ghost of Ladders” once again impressively proves how Dub can effortlessly get to the core of the music and transcend it into a magical-abstract experience of pure sound. Now, I don't want to give the impression that Rice is somehow producing cerebral art music. On the contrary: thanks to the poppy basic nature of the music, it stays there Dubversion accessible and inevitably creates a good mood when listening. For me one of the most beautiful Dub-Albums from the last few months.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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Five Star Review

Message: Showcase 1

The A-Lone Ark Muzik Studio in Santander has developed into one of the most interesting production facilities for modern roots reggae. Superb productions, perfectly crafted riddims, brilliant sound quality and simply great compositions are the hallmark of the studio. Behind this studio in Santander, Spain is Roberto Sánchez, a multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer and producer who has gathered a group of highly gifted Spanish reggae musicians around him. He and his crew are responsible for some of the most exciting albums of recent times. Z. B. Inés Pardo's "My Time", Ras Teo's "Ion Man" and I Man Cruz's "In A Mission" to name just a few of the most recent. But now Sánchez and his colleagues have outdone themselves and produced an absolutely outstanding instrumental and Dub-Album submitted: “Showcase 1” by Message (A-Lone Reggae). It was recorded in just one weekend in the Ark studio, live, pure and direct - and of course on magnetic tape, just like the musicians in Jamaica used to do. It is precisely to them, and to the reggae sound of the 1970s, that Sánchez & Co. pay tribute with their showcase album. “The soundtrack of our lives,” as Sánchez says. Their tribute contains 7 instrumentals and 7 Dub-versions. Lead instruments include melodica, trombone and sometimes a keyboard. All pieces are the band's own compositions. What excites me most is the tight production of the pieces. What a brilliant, energetic game, what precision and what perfect timing! I am convinced that handmade reggae cannot be recorded better today. The “song quality” of the pieces is equally convincing, as are the arrangements. So the only question that remains is: Dub-versions. Since not much can actually go wrong with the source material, it almost answers itself. Roberto Sánchez has the beats firmly under control: The Dubs are exciting and varied – and of course strictly old school. As expected, the lead instruments were robbed of their dominance here, but this only made the quality of the rest of the music stand out even more clearly. Anyone who buys the album in physical form will also be gifted with detailed liner notes on the production process and will see a few black and white photos of the musicians - also in the style of seventies vinyl.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Review

OBF & Iration Steppers: Revelation Time

The Iration Steppers are currently the most famous sound system in the world. The sessions by Mark Iration and Dennis Rootical are among the highlights of the major sound system festivals. Their almost brutalist sound at deafening volume is indeed an intense experience. An experience that can hardly be reproduced at home on the sofa at moderate volume. The productions are a bit too under-complex for that. For some time now the Steppers have been touring the world with the Frenchman Rico and his sound system OBF and mixing various things together Dub-Events. Rico and Mark first met in 2004, became friends and decided to start a long-term collaboration. The result of this collaboration, which has become an album, is now available: “Revelation Time” (Dubquack). “We locked ourselves in the studio, writing lyrics, cooking up riddims, perfecting our production recipes, secret techniques and octopus mixes,” is how Rico describes the creation of the album. The result is 16 impressive tracks, intense, monstrous and brutal. Interestingly, none of the tracks do without vocals - what a Dub-Sound system is extremely unusual. Maybe they themselves noticed that the riddims are hardly instrumental Dubalbum is good. However, one has to object that the vocals are not always able to compensate for this deficiency. Apart from the anthem “Love Sound System”, which combines beautiful lyrics with a really catchy melody, the rest of the “songs” remain pretty bland. Even though Mark, Dennis and Rico say they are already in... Dub-Year 4000, the album sounds a bit yesterday. Instead of relying on massiveness and bass impact on every track, careful songwriting and/or differentiated production and inspired mixing would have been advisable. So the only option left is to play the tracks in a sound system in order to “feel” their actual quality. But who has that at home?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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Interview

Interview with Tropical DUB Connection

Your name: Tomas Kroutil aka DubT
You live in: Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Title of your last album: Raabta Dub

What is your personal definition of dub? 
Dub music, to me, is essentially a studio reimagining or deconstruction of a track or song. It emphasizes the drum and bass, employing effects like delay, echo, and reverb to reveal a deeper, more atmospheric, or meditative dimension of the original piece.

What makes a good dub? 
A solid groove is foundational, but it's the originality in the studio approach that truly defines a good dub. This includes introducing dynamic shifts and unexpected moments in the mix, enriching the listening experience.

Which aspects of dub music fascinates you the most?
The unique atmosphere of dub music – its depth, space, and the hypnotic, almost mystical vibe – is what fascinates me the most. It's an immersive experience that transports the listener.

How did you discover your passion for dub, and how have you and your music evolved since then? 
My journey into dub started with reggae music. I was instantly drawn to the dub elements and the sparse drum and bass sections found in almost all reggae songs, especially live versions. This fascination has guided my musical evolution.

What does the creation process of a typical one mean? dub track of yours look like?
It all starts with an idea or concept. The Tropical DUB Connection project is based on applying the dub principles on various genres. I begin by choosing a genre – be it Indian, African, Latin, etc. – and envision transforming it into dub. The process involves finding intriguing sounds, rhythm patterns, and melodies. I play and record almost every string instrument, including ethnic ones, along with keys and percussions. Sometimes, it involves extensive searching in sound libraries and working with samples. After establishing the riddim and layering all instruments and vocals, the fun begins with applying FX and mixing, leading to the final mix and master.

When you are satisfied with a dub track you have produced?
I'm satisfied when everything sounds clear and crisp. If, after listening in various situations and with fresh ears, I feel nothing more needs to be added, the track is complete.

What is the most important thing when producing dub?
Remembering the foundation is crucial: a good drum and bass groove and maintaining musicality before getting carried away with effects.

You also work with singers (or sing yourself). When do you decide to turn your production into a song, and when does it stay a dub?
Most of the time mainly due to lack of possibilities and occasions, I'm working with samples and acapellas from various sources. Voices, much like the message they convey, are treated as another instrument in the mix. I'm open to collaborations and have plans for projects involving live vocalists.

Basically speaking: Do you prefer songs or dubs? Why?
My preference varies. As a listener, I enjoy a wide range of genres equally. As a producer, I ensure dub elements are prominent, regardless of the project.

What is the situation of dub music in your country?
In Sri Lanka, where I currently reside, the dub scene is virtually non-existent. However, in my home country, the Czech Republic, the scene is vibrant with regular events and talented producers.

What is your unique strength in music production?
I believe my gift lies in vision and musical ideas, particularly in blending various elements harmoniously.

Which album do you consider your best?
It's difficult to self-assess, but based on audience reception, Dubam' La Cumbia vol 1 has been well received. I'm currently working on the sequel, aiming for a release at the end of March 2024.

Are you able to make a living with your music?
Barely. Luckily having other things going on. Give thanks.

Which aspects of music production do you enjoy the most?
The entire creative process, especially when separate tracks begin to groove together, is what I find most fulfilling.

What do you hate in the studio?
Hours of sitting.

When you're not working on dubs, what do you like to do the most?
I enjoy immersing myself in nature, meditating, reading, and traveling.

What music do you listen to besides dub?
Quite a wide variety of genres. From all kind of world music, mainly African, Latin and Indian to RnB, Jazz, Soul, Blues. All the way to Sri Lankan pop music which I'm naturally exposed by living here with my wife.

If money and time were no object: What project would you like to realize?
I'd love to collaborate with musicians from Africa, India, and Jamaica to create a unique, dub-infused production akin to Real World Studios' style.

Are there any Sound System events that you particularly like to attend? Why?
In Europe, I'd choose King Shiloh events for their memorable experiences, although my performance focus has been more with bands.

What do you prefer: studio work or sound system performance?
While I enjoy occasional gigs in local beach bars, I feel more at home in the studio environment.

Who do you think is the greatest dub artist of all time?
Hard to pick one, but if it has to be a one, would say Lee “Scratch” Perry.

And who is the most interesting? dub artist currently?
Equally hard. And at the same time not that much aware of some on the youngest generation, so I would name a living legend: Adrian Sherwood.

Which Sound System do you appreciate the most?
Jah Shaka – real foundation.

What are your personal top 5 dub albums?
Easy Star All Stars: Dub Side Of The Moon
Dub Syndicate: Fear of the Green Planet
Lee Scratch Perry: Blackboard Jungle Dub
Israel vibration: Dub Vibration
Suns Of Arqa: Jaggernaut Whirling Dub

Categories
Review

Vibronics: Woman On A Mission 2

In 2018, Steve Vibronics released an album for which he only invited female singers to contribute vocals to his productions. It had the programmatic title “Woman on a Mission” and was intended to shine a spotlight on female protagonists in the UK sound system scene. Because like generally in roots reggae, in Dub and largely even in the dancehall scene, female artistes are dramatically underrepresented. So a really well-intentioned action by the UKDub-Ursteins. Unfortunately, the musical result of his efforts wasn't really that good. What was even more important, in my opinion, was that the singers gathered here were exactly that: singers. Where were the female producers and female sound system operators? Now, six years later, the two albums are released “Woman On A Mission 2" and "Woman On A Mission 2 – The Dub Mixes(Scoops Records) and impressively correct this flaw. The first four tracks of “Woman On A Mission 2” are also vocal tracks again - this time with Carroll Thompson, Sandra Cross, Marina P and the Sisters in Dub on the microphones, but the remaining eight tracks are flawless Dubs, produced by female protagonists of the international Dub-Scene – Steve Vibronics lumps them together under “The Riddim Makers”. These are Sista Habesha from Italy, Empress Shema from the UK, Vanya O'hnec, Red Astrid Soul Steppa from the Philippines and Koko Vega from Spain. It remains unclear whether these producers brought their material with them to the Vibronics studio or developed tracks on site together with Steve Vibronics. However, the result is impressively coherent and, despite the geographical diversity, clearly bears the hallmarks of the UKDub. This in turn means that despite the exemplary commitment the album cannot win an innovation award - at a Sound System gig, however, the Steppers tracks could cause a huge sensation. Although eight of the twelve tracks collected here are already Dubs, there is an explicit one Dub-Album counterpart under the title “The Dub Mixes”. As expected, everything sounds a bit harder here, even more like four in the morning on a Sound System Night, more reverb, more bass and breakneck mixes. Of course it's important to forego the four vocal tracks here, but theirs Dub-Reincarnation is also not to be underestimated. Unfortunately there is the “Dub Mixes” are not on stream, so their enjoyment will have to be purchased with 10 British pounds, which will probably make them an exclusive listening experience.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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Review

Youthie & Macca Dread: Gecko Tones

Youthie and Macca Dread are setting new standards with their new album “Gecko Tones(Youthie Records) seamlessly picked up where they left off with “The Roots Explorers”, which in turn picked up where the two had previously left off with “Nomad Skank”. This continuity should not be misunderstood as stagnation. The multi-instrumentalist Youthie and the riddim maker Macca Dread simply continue their collaboration at the same high level. The 44 tracks on the three albums could have been created in a single extended session. I already suspect it: my words cannot be read without a slight criticism, as there is often a general expectation that everything must constantly develop and improve. But for us friends of Dub one thing is clear: good things remain. And you really have to give credit to the two French guys: what they do is really, really good. A change could jeopardize this status of perfection. That's why I'm grateful that Macca Dread produced just as powerful rhythms for "Gecko Tones" as they did for the previous albums and that Youthie delivers their instrumental playing in a way that couldn't be more congenial. In every note you can hear that Juliette Bourdeix aka Youthie, who was classically trained on the trumpet, has not only mastered her craft, but has internalized reggae to the core. Your trumpet, occasionally also a flute or accordion, does not play bluntly over the rhythms - as is often heard on reggae instrumental albums - but WITH them. Youthie feels the vibe of reggae in a way that only a true lover of the genre can, weaving her playing with the beats into an inseparable unit. Youthie and Macca Dread have created true instrumental “songs” in which rhythms and lead instruments complement each other perfectly and interact with each other. The result is completely coherent instrumental pieces that you don't hear too often in reggae. It's also clever how Youthie changes instruments from track to track, thus providing a lot of variety. It also evokes musical styles from different cultures, which makes the listening experience of the album a little journey that takes us primarily to Eastern Europe in the Balkans. She always finds beautiful melodies that shape her pieces and make them unique. But Youthie's music couldn't work its magic without Macca Dread's absolutely brilliant productions. He also manages to compose varied tracks, which he records entirely in analogue form himself and produces them in a dynamic, crisp sound. Anyone who still complains about the fact that there is no “real” Dub-Mix should stand in the corner and be ashamed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Categories
Review

Menotti HiFi: YKSI

There's a new kid on the block: Menotti HiFi. Three musicians from Münster, Thomas Hoppe (drums), Gudze (bass) and Arne Piri (keyboard) form the trio, two of which were already members of the Senior Allstars. After three years of jam sessions, experimentation and sound discovery, they are now presenting their debut album: “YKSI” (Vinyl Only Records). The name and origin of the band refer to Dub – and yet the three don’t see each other as “Dub Act”. They sound (by their own admission) as if the Beastie Boys were recording an instrumental album in Lee Perry's Black Ark Studio. Since the Beastie Boys famously didn't play reggae, it should be clear that we're dealing with a sound pretty much on the fringes of the genre - which can be quite refreshing. To me it sounds like rock and breakbeat, played and processed according to the concept of Dub. Difficult to describe in more detail and equally difficult to evaluate because of the lack of clear references. It's best if you listen for yourself.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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Review

iGL & Alecho: Revolution

Okay, you can really get excited about the fact that “real” sound systemDub has been standing still for 25 years, but you can also be happy about that Dub takes exciting new paths in the vicinity of electronic minimal music. The album is a really nice example of this "Revolution" by iGL & Alecho (Dubphonics). The duo Konstantinos & Alexandra lives and works in Athens, where this album was also recorded. It's unmistakably offbeat-driven Dub, which, however, subtly has one foot in the electronic music genre and cleverly explores the possibilities of crossovers. I particularly like the finely balanced arrangements of the minimalist-looking rhythms. Surprisingly, they are by no means monotonous or even boring, but rather exciting audio pieces - which are worth getting involved with. At the Sound System Clash, no one would think of playing music by iGL & Alecho, but anyone who indulges in contemplation and listens carefully (at best through headphones) will be entertained in an intelligent way. By the way, that doesn't mean that the music lacks power and dynamism. Not at all. The beats are quite impressive - at the right volume. Since the tracks consistently avoid boasting, big pants and aggression, the pleasant impression of real relaxation is conveyed. Very pleasant.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Categories
Review

Dub Stax

At least since the Easy Star Allstars and Mato we know that everything is different dubben lets: The Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Daft Punk, Country & Western, soundtracks, even classical music. And now also soul. The album "Dub Stax” (Echo Beach) by drummer Achim Färber proves it. As is well known, soul and reggae have a common past. Especially during the rocksteady era, almost every US soul release was covered in Jamaica. So it makes sense to approach soul today using reggae means. Even more specific: With Dub-means. The big advantage: Dub reduces the fall height, because compared to a “normal” cover version, it has to Dubversion does not stand up to comparison with the original, but is viewed more as an independent work - which also opens up greater creative scope. “Why not?” thought Achim Färber, currently the drummer for the band Automat, got a few musicians together (!) and started playing and recording classics from the legendary soul label Stax dubben. Interestingly, Färber has hardly had anything to do with reggae so far. His impressive discography lists hundreds of names, including only one, Deadbeat, which I know from the reggae context. This may be why the sound of his recordings is atypical for reggae. But ultimately it doesn't matter, because what matters is the quality of the music - and not what it is comparable to. So let's listen carefully. What strikes you first: the supposed ones Dubs have a fairly large vocal component. Although these are often fragmented and the majority of them are lost in the echo, this still represents the categorization as “Dub“a little questionable. However, there are enough instrumental versions and even explicit ones on the album.Dub Cuts” to the title “Dub Stax” can ultimately be justified. Nevertheless, it would have been more consistent to do without vocals completely. But that may be a subjective judgment of taste on my part, because I like the excessive use of vocal fragments in the Dub not. Because singing inevitably banishes the instrumental music into the background. It becomes “backing” and loses its inherent value and only “serves” the singing. At the Dub But it's exactly about bringing the “backing” to the forefront, putting all the focus on it and letting it work in all its beauty. That's why singing bothers me Dub-Mixes in principle - whereas I love it when one Dub begins with singing, which then, in an act of unscrupulous anarchy and disrespect, is simply cut off in the middle of the word by the engineer and then dissolves into reverb and smoke. Okay, so on this aspect I'm convinced Dub Not Stax. Otherwise there is little to complain about. The interpretations of the Stax classics are truly original. The sound sometimes reminds me of the Senior Allstars, a bit dry, a bit woody, but with a solid groove. The DubHowever, the mix is ​​extremely subtle, a bit too repetitive and generally not really exciting.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.