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.


revolution: Dub Collection

Acts like Rebelution, Stick Figure, Tribal Seeds and whatever their names seem to have been designed on the drawing board: the music is a hybrid somewhere between reggae, rock and ballad, the lyrics without references to any dogmas, the target groups with college kids , Beach Bums, Surfer Dudes and Dopeheads clearly defined - brand white middle class with a penchant for beer and canabis; with the necessary change, but still open to social issues. The All American Boy with his All American Girl, so to speak, preferably residing in the Sunny States. You can make money with it - less with releases, more with tours, merchandise, beer and weed. Rebelution are leading the way and have brought your brand into the brewery and cannabis business and for their 2021 tour you can of course already buy the premium tickets including merchandise bundle - with Rebelution stainless steel water bottle, Rebelution guitar picks and lots of Rebelution -Things more - by cheap +/- 115 dollars. At gigs in California, Oregon, Colorado, etc., the range of merch will be expanded accordingly, no question about it.

Rebelution & Co. have apparently managed precisely where Jamaican acts failed miserably: To bring reggae back into the consciousness of a wealthy clientele. Well, from a puristic point of view it has its price - then there is no one drop, no Jah and no Rasta patois; and if you thoughtlessly called yourself “Soldiers of Jah Army”, you simply change your name to the more harmless “SOYA”. The Tingel stages still remain for the Jamaican grandfathers - or they can be taken on a big tour as a support act. Every nickle makes a muckle, Yardie!

Sarcasm aside - it's not quite like that. The bands mentioned were by no means created on the drawing board, but simply developed from their natural environment: college dude smokes weed, college dude listens to Marley, college dude strumming on guitar & the rest is band history. He has remained loyal to his first fan base, even if the next generation of spring breakers is already pawing at the starting blocks. The niche has become a more than acceptable market, because there are colleges across the country in the states. Good vibes, man!

Rebelution is in any case the Figurehead of the relevant Californian reggae bands and a very successful tour act - not so much in Europe for lack of ... nuja, colleges; But it's enough to support Groundation on stages at home, where they are really worth their money. Something like Roots Reggae, driven by dirty rock drums - that makes a difference and comes out of the speakers with a lot of power. Amazingly, Rebelution succeeds in this drive and the typical one Live sound reproduce in the studio and maintain on all of their albums. It looks fresh and at the same time heavyweight - an important antithesis to the often over-implicated texts ("Lazy afternoon“) And simple vocal lines.

Text & vocals should be "Dub Collection“Not be a problem. The album features a selection of tracks from all of the Rebelution albums that have been released to date - and some of them are 13 years under their belt. Nevertheless, everything fits together in terms of sound and looks like it is made of one piece. For the digital Dub-Mix is ​​responsible for a certain Kyle Ahern - tour guitarist for Rebelution. “Why him?” Asks the reviewer after the first listening session; why not Dubmatix, Prince Fatty, Roberto Sanchez, Paolo Baldini, why not anyone who understands his craft and Dub understands it as an exciting, thrilling journey filled with surprising effects into infinite sound widths? The album leaves me speechless - so boring, lifeless, fun and tensionless DubI haven't heard it in a long time. When a Dub-Mixer cannot, does not want or does not dare, then such arise Dubs. It can't be because of the selected tracks themselves - they would have always had the potential for something great, but it shouldn't be. Then rather the "Falling into place"-Pull album into the streaming pipeline ... Rebelution at their best, hands down.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.


C Jones meets Ale X: Kalimba is my Telephone in Dub

You always meet twice. Do I just have Robbie Ost from the Go East Studios a "not a particularly impressive mix“Assuming that a new album is around the corner that makes my ears flicker - in the most positive sense, mind you. I have seldom heard such a nicely balanced mixdown - even though the sound layer is obviously layered on top of the sound layer and a wonderful analog one Dub-Effect follows the other. The whole thing results in a tightly interwoven network of sounds that, even after the umpteenth time listening, still reveals something new and unheard. And yes, Robbie Ost contributed to this really impressive mix and you can find it on the album "C Jones meets Ale X: Kalimba is my Telephone in Dub“(Echo Beach).

I fully understand everyone to whom neither artist nor album title say anything; I was no different. So here's a quick run-through: Ale X is Ali Tersch, drummer for Dubblestandart and Supermax, who was also on the road with Steel Pan musician Courtney Jones and flautist Lore Grutschnig as a trio "Steel Pan meets Kalimba". While the Trinidadian steel pan is well known, the kalimba is the African "thumb piano" that is still used ceremonially in Zimbabwe to communicate with ancestors. Ali Tersch and Lore Grutschnig have further developed the instrument and used it as an electrified version for performances: 

Five years after the death of Courtney Jones, Ali Tersch aka Ale X has now finalized the trio's studio recordings. Originally planned as a regular release, the tedious mixing of the tracks gave rise to the idea of ​​a DubAlbums. Its title “Kalimba is my Telephone in Dub“, Says Ale X, stands metaphorically for the contrast between the latest digital and millennia-old musical communication - but ultimately it is also an expression of the bond with the late Courtney Jones.

Electro Dub? World Dub? Ale X defends itself against categorization - and it is indeed difficult to classify the music. Memories of the Howie B / Sly & Robbie production, which is now 20 years old, "Drum & Bass Strip to the Bone“Are awakened - could the new album be understood as a contemporary further development of this concept using today's technical possibilities? Ale X sees the comparison as a compliment; Sly & Robbie were and are still in charge for him. In fact, he not only worked with the original studio recordings, but also with audio snippets and field recordings that were made while traveling, for example in India. The main roles, however, are played by the electric kalimbas and the steel pan - both were sometimes only recognizable as such to the reviewer after listening to them a lot. This is also what makes the album so appealing: steel pan, flute, kalimbas, percussions - everything on board; but never “in your face!”, but rather carefully integrated and interwoven in the mix, so that new nuances are constantly revealed.

Therefore, to assume a naive, lovely, perhaps even instructive ethno-world music mentality would be a fatal mistake: Ale X creates a decent groove with loops and beats and uses it Dub-Techniques not just for individual effects, but as a stylistic device - or as an independent instrument, if you will. The whole thing results in a wonderful sound package, which may initially appear a little brittle - only to then gradually open up and reveal its many sound secrets. Ultimately no Dub-Album in the most conservative sense - but a substantial, through & through successful debut of an accomplished musician.

(... and for the extremely beautiful cover art I put half a star on top)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Paolo Baldini Dubfiles meets Dubble standard: Dub Me crazy

Ultimately, I can only reasonably (!) Objectively assess releases based on the temporal development of the artists. So my opinion about an album is actually only solidified when I have heard its predecessor and its successor. Without this before-and-after comparison, I only get a spontaneous impression; nothing more than a snapshot with no reference point - and I don't hesitate to say that this is the humble basis for my reviews in the dubblog is. With debuts this comparative criticism does not work per se; I ask everyone else what has changed over the course of three consecutive album releases. Has there been a change of direction, personnel changes, different producers or mixing engineers? If the albums move in different soundscapes, there are diverging concepts or perhaps even quality fluctuations; What is the relationship between the respective work and the musical reality of its time? In short: I sound out how and to what extent a (further) development caused by various circumstances has taken place. Ultimately, we are dealing with a creative area, with art - and that is not static per se.

With Paul Zasky and his Dubblestandart conglomerate, an artistic development has recently been noticed, albeit unfortunately a declining one - it was last with the album "Dubblestandart & Firehouse Crew present Reggae Classics“An unexpected, veritable drop in quality. We remember: Neither Zasky nor the Firehouse Crew were up to the task of reinterpreting monuments of reggae history. Mixmaster Robbie Ost also more or less failed with his not particularly impressive mix - probably it was from the recordings, which in stark contrast to the fine previous album "Dub Realistic“Stand, no longer to get out. A Paolo Baldini, on the other hand, who, like Zasky, is a bassist and can look back on a similarly long history in the reggae business, in my opinion eludes a temporal comparison: his productions and Dub Mixes, from “Paolo Baldini Dubfiles at Song Embassy Papine Kingston 6 "via Mellow Moods" Large Dub" up to "Dolomite Rockers“Releases are characterized by consistently high quality - in terms of both creative and sound-technical aspects.

The Echo Beach label has now joined forces for the length of an album: "Paolo Baldini Dubfiles meets Dubble standard“Featured older and newer ones Dubblestandart tracks that Baldini with Dub-Mixes revised. Unsurprisingly, this combo works exceptionally well and I'm tempted to try the Italian Dub-Mixer the “Midas Touch” to blame: Everything he touches in his studio seems to be transformed into musical precious metal. 

How does the guy do it? I can only make vague guesses; but in my mind's eye, Baldini first spreads a handful of dirt on the tracks and thus takes the music away Dubblestandart's own perfection, which sometimes leads to sterility. “Squeaky clean” is probably the appropriate Anglicism for this. Next, Baldini should split the tracks apart to separate the good from the less good - only to then carefully add one or the other new sound again without the piece of music becoming an unrecognizable mutant. The result is an audibly well-ventilated base material into which he can work Dub- Can place effects in the best possible way. 

This process - whatever it actually looks like in reality - works like a makeover, especially as Paolo Baldini does Dub-Mixing approaches the matter with what feels like a dose of disrespect: nothing is cautiously or carefully placed; Echo and reverb often push themselves to the fore and remind a little - do I dare to say it? - to the Dub-Techniques of a King Tubby, whose greatest asset was also a certain disrespect for the music and the studio technology. Goods Dub must still from today Dub-Mixers are implemented with verve and filled with life; otherwise there will be studio stillbirths that cannot be beaten in terms of boredom, listlessness and cold sterility. So I wouldn't be surprised if Baldini got this Dubs worked out live: very old-school, speak spontaneously and creatively on the analog board. 

That Dubblestandart likes to hand over their tracks for remixes, is well known and often has a refreshingly beneficial effect on their music. Remember the remix battle for the Marcia Griffiths feature "Holding You Close“, Which has a total of 22 versions, including the great one Alpsdub-Remix. In the large circle of DubBlestandart collaborators are now joining Paolo Baldini and insisting, “Holding You Close” is another one Dub- Missing painting. The rest of the title selection for “Paolo Baldini Dubfiles meets Dubblestandart “he restricts himself to tracks from the last four regular ones Dubblestandart releases - including two of the unfortunate recordings with the Firehouse Crew, which, despite obvious efforts, only seem like revenants. The rest, however, come to life, breathe freely and vibrate through “Acres of Space”. A small, saving one Dub-Wonder that the bar has set high for his successor. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dubvisionist presents PFL Dubstudio sessions

Admittedly, the first time I only listened half-heartedly and incidentally via the notebook speaker. Biggest possible mistake of a reviewer, no question about it - shame on me. I may ask for a little understanding when I confess to myself Dubvisionist's "yoga in Dub“Left pretty untouched. An album that certainly has its place in the work-life balance trend and can be used well with a vinyasa flow, for example - if you can't stand silence while performing the asanas. And yet: I have the approach of reggae /Dub belongs to "New Age" music in the broadest sense. Deeply relaxed readers like Deva Premal's excellent mantra chanting album produced by Maneesh de Moor "A deeper light“Lead to mind; or Jay Uttal's "Roots Rock Rama!“-Release in which the Kirtan veteran padded his chants with solid reggae grooves.

In fact, this is about the successor to “Yoga in Dub"Who is there"Dubvisionist presents PFL Dubstudio sessions “(Echo Beach) calls it. Felix Wolter aka Dubvisionist is well known and valued in the Dub-Scene; the review its fine “King Size Dub There is nothing more to add. I would see PFL or Pre Fade Listening as the part in the equation, which is rather unknown today, as one of Felix Wolter's musical incarnations: a project that made a name for itself in the past with its lounge productions.

“Lounge” as a term for a hodgepodge of different musical styles has always been a puzzling phenomenon to me - sure, it's mostly really relaxed downbeat; often instrumental or provided with more or less obscure ethnic vocals and samples. Located somewhere between everything and nothing, it is used by millennials as background sound in the cool bars and hip club lounges. This is where people meet for a neat chill out, have friends and acquaintances and possibly plan the rest of the night together. In short: Wherever the word “nice” is used instead of “beautiful”, “good” or “fine”, the probability of hearing lounge is very high. All of this has to do primarily with communication; Music plays a subordinate role: not too loud, not too present, not too intrusive or, in the worst case, even disturbing the conversation. Passive music that you don't actually want to hear, but at best perceive as background hum, but which is ideal for bridging the silence - in the event that you have nothing more to say to yourself. Sarcasm aside: A lot of money was made under the label “Lounge Music”, especially in the noughties; it was probably the last hype in which physical records played a role. What remains is a curiosity: music that you actually don't (consciously) want to hear.

Back to the topic; back to an album that in the right setting - that is, a music system with a powerful subwoofer - becomes a veritable bass monster. Of course we don't have classic reggae here /Dub infront of us; HardcoreDubheads will definitely identify one or the other snipet of a reggae bassline; for example in the track “Going Underground”, in which the groove of The Tamlins' or Sly & Robbie's “Baltimore“Can be seen. Or how about the whole "Drum song"-Bassline in" Long Reasoning Dub“? Even Nyabinghi drums are used (“Searching for the Magic Frequency”), and yet I would rather classify the album as a downbeat - also to avoid the unfortunate term lounge. The release is just too interesting for that, requires due attention to discover many small and large sound gimmicks - such as vocal samples, a rocking guitar and wonderful percussions. 

May one "Dubvisionist presents PFL Dubsessions “maybe even with the Dub Compare Syndicate at Best On-U Sound Times? Well, a Style Scott is irreplaceable, but Adrian Sherwood also likes to experiment with all sorts of influences and styles. In this respect one can draw parallels; and I would think of the track "The Lone Ranger" as missing Dub Want to sell Syndicate recording - I probably wouldn't question it. Apart from the boring track “Yoga Secret” an interesting album that includes Dub- Effects not stingy. In terms of sound, it is in the with its rather reserved highs Dubvisionist-specific sound world at home, which was much duller on earlier releases. Balm for listeners like the reviewer, for whom cutting, extreme highs cause bleeding ears, but who celebrates intestinal massages in the lower Hz range all the more.

Ultimately, I recommend the inclined reader not to be confused by the album cover, the track title “Skylarkin Lounge” and the reviewer's lounge phobia. Albums of a different kind demand openness and the willingness to get involved with them - especially if they are not the usual ones Dub-Conform to clichés. Who so on "Dubvisionist presents PFL Dubsessions ”will be rewarded.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Manasseh meets Praise

I don't want to fool around for a long time and say right away: That's not a Dub Album. There are no echoes, hardly any reverb or other effects. This is by no means a journey through it Dub-Universe let alone a multi-dimensional sound flash in trip quality. But it's a nice, atmospheric instrumental album of a different kind - and I'm not in the position to call it one of the best releases so far of the drought 2020 in this regard.

We're talking about Nick Manasseh's new production, which he recorded with Praise. As far as one would like to believe the omniscient data garbage dump Google, the latter is an accomplished and sought-after violinist who has already worked with various greats in the studio and on stage. This makes it clearer in which direction we are moving here: To a different kind of clash - when string instruments meet reggae. This is not a sensation per se, nor is it new, as demonstrated by Cat Coore, Ras Divarious or numerous Sherwood productions. With "Manasseh meets praise“(Roots Garden Records) the two components enter into an almost perfect symbiosis. 

On the one hand, this may be due to the producer Manasseh, who used his gentle but unshakable voice from the Earl Sixteen release "Gold dust“The familiar style continues: Acoustic guitars float over a lazy bass monster. Here Praise can bring himself in perfectly with multi-layered string recordings, so that sometimes the impression arises as if a string quartet played melancholy music for a film of this kind - as you can also see in the video for the track "Yes Mic":

I do not know why this particular piece was chosen for the promo video; In any case, my selling point would have been “London Babylon”, which is my highlight of the album with its melody and clever arrangement. Perhaps the choice was difficult because the tracks from “Mannasseh Meets Praise” make a wonderfully coordinated potpourri and ultimately look like one piece - even though the recordings took place over a period of almost ten years.

The album unfolds its greatest charm through its well-tempered sound. You seldom hear a reggae bass so comfortably soft, so deep and at the same time powerful, the highs are pleasantly reserved. In the mixdown, the violins (and sometimes a flute) are gently embedded; nothing screeches there, no sound is annoying - and yet one is miles away from being “ironed”. In the usual review self-experiment, I also heard this release in a continuous loop; it was never boring or annoying due to the repetitions - but it always revealed new nuances: in the sound, in the arrangement, in the (imo classical) melody.

If I finally had to sum up the qualities of the album in one word, it would be “subtle”. Not everyone will be comfortable with this assessment - hardcore Dubheads it could all be too lax. On the other hand, those who are open to nuanced acoustic sounds will like the album and the way it latently seeps into the subconscious. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Pyrotechnist: Fire Crackers

Then it's slowly enough again with the 70s revival. There have been plenty of new recordings lately with a glorified view of the good old days: Here a part Roots, there a part Lovers Rock, spiced with a touch of Ska and / or Rocksteady, which can be stirred or shaken with analog instruments and DubEffects - the new, old cocktail as it is now served on American and European platforms is ready. The roots-oriented productions of Roberto Sanchez proven: He has succeeded in replicating the essence of Jamaican productions of the late 70s and bringing it into the present day. With this, Sanchez has set a milestone that can be used to measure other productions - even if they start earlier and use recordings from the early 70s as a reference.

One can and should ask the question whether such a 70s revival trend makes sense at all: Why reproduce a sound of which there are plenty of excellent originals thanks to labels like Pressure Sounds? Why imitate the old masters of the genre if you can't muster up their inventiveness, enthusiasm for experimentation, but also audacity and disrespect for all technical standards and customs? Back then, these weren't considered, balanced sounds that caressed the ear, but rather the full broad side beyond the stop: A King Tubby didn't care whether an effect was completely overdriven and the PA or studio monitors were overloaded; only the result counted. The replicas completely lack this daring; Sometimes you can't help but get the impression that only mid-o-esque background sound was recorded for dignified shopping malls à la Galerie Lafayette: boring, irrelevant. And yet the revival bands have a certain status as a live act; With a much more powerful sound, they make the stage a place where the arrangements á la 70s can be really fun. 

I assume that it is similar with the Belgian band project Pyrotechnist. Their album "Fire Crackers" (Badasonic Records) has just been released and offers not only a clean sound but also dignified arrangements that are not too short DubEffects are offset. The focus is on the early 70s; memories of Jackie Mittoo, Augustus Pablo, Dave Barker & Ansel Collins, but also Sly Dunbar are sought. All in all, this results in an eclectic and unspectacular mixture of reggae and rocksteady with a hint of Ska. It only gets exciting when brass sections come into play; when drums are mixed so far in the background that only snare and fills can be heard; when (finally again) the Clavinet plays a role or the sometimes outstanding ones Dub-Push effects into focus. 

Of course, one can understand the album in its entirety as a bow to the aforementioned master instrumentalists; the recordings do not do justice to the originals. So who will enjoy “Fire Crackers”? Probably nostalgic and the Lafayette Gallery; I recommend the corresponding releases of Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds & Co. to everyone else.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Aldubb: Mesozoic Valley

What do you actually call music - and in our case Dub - which was created entirely on the computer? Digital Dubs, laptop music, EDM (cheekily modified: Electronic Dub Music)? The digital craft is not that brand new - it's been an unbelievable 35 years since Prince Jammy produced the Sleng Teng-Riddim and thus triggered a paradigm shift that was to fundamentally change the reggae world. For a good 15 years, digital sounds have dictated where to go - and Jammy, who became King after Tubby's death, was the measure of all things, at least in the first decade. Today his recordings are only acoustic witnesses of bygone days, and the early digital works of other producers and musicians such as Fatis Burell, Bobby Digital or Gussie Clarke have only survived the time - if at all - slightly better. What they all have in common, however, is the immense and lasting impression they make in reggae (and in Dub) have left.

Al was certainly influenced by thisdubb exposed; however, his music has overcome the narrow boundaries of roots and dancehall and is open to well-dosed pinches of other music genres. Much appreciated for its two wonderful “Planets of Dub"Releases, the Berliner now publishes a selection of laptopDubs that the wait on planet of Dub Vol. 3 is intended to shorten. That makes "Mesozoic Valley“(One Drop Music) by no means a stopgap; the (this time) purely digitally orchestrated pieces can definitely stand on their own. The opener “Jurassic Extinction” was a great success, sneaking up with a restrained string sample and then creating a physically noticeable pressure wave with a drum & bass drop - at the appropriate volume, mind you. This first "Woah ... killer bass!" Impression extends over the entire length of the album and is my personal tonal leitmotif of "Mesozoic Valley", which is also otherwise due to excellent mixing and perfectly placed, but still unobtrusive (analog!) Dub-Effects shines.

Is everything okay then? Not exactly; The above-mentioned “well-dosed pinches” are too strong for my taste this time - a little less trap and hip-hop elements (“Velociraptor”) and Dubstep bonds ("Tethys") would be the conservative Dubhead better liked. Instead, I would have liked more “lifelike” samples like the initial strings, which contrast nicely with the programmed beats. The biggest shortcoming of the album, however, is the lack of hooklines - neither the aforementioned punchy, almost subsonically perceptible bass nor the successful mixdown help: If no melodic phrase or bassline wants to cling to your ears, the tracks will splash more or less when you listen to them often interchangeably. The very interesting concept into which Aldubb has embedded his tracks: The titles tell of the Middle Ages, the drifting apart continent Pangea, the Tethys and everything that crawls and flies in the Jura - until the asteroid comes and the great extinction begins. The music itself has no relation to the titles; Put simply, no Velociraptor screams at us on the track of the same name; the huge Triceratops does not want to stomp in his piece and draw attention to himself in terms of sound. That's not to say I liked an acoustic comic better; Just my attention and the associated recognition value would have been much higher.

Ultimately, “Mesozoic Valley” leaves me as a reviewer with thoroughly ambivalent feelings. In contrast, all those Aldubbs earlier works like “Let There Be Dub"Or" Advanced Physics "appreciate and love, cannot understand this dichotomy and add one star or another to my rating. Go ahead!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pachyman: At 333 House

So here we have a release called "from scratch" as Dub-Album was designed; a production that was probably created out of joy and love for classic reggae or analog Dub-Technique originated. But the album also seems to correspond to a trend that has been heard more and more recently: It presents a sound image that gives the impression that one is with the artist in a rather musty, dull rehearsal room padded for sound insulation. Nothing is embellished there; the loud hi-hat and the cymbals sound tinny, the bass drum and the bass sound dry and flat. Musicians will feel transported back to their beginnings when they listen - back then, with the band in the damp, cold basement for whom the term “rehearsal room” was a bad joke. 

So a sound that has nothing to do with the deep bass and the sharp highs of e.g. Jamaican productions. In this respect, classic Dubheads no great pleasure in Pachyman's "At 333 House“(Mock Records) have. It is the second (solo) album by the LA-based Puerto Rican who obviously draws the inspiration for his self-written and almost single-handedly recorded riddims from the late 70s. He is not alone in this either; In the last few months there have been productions that have dedicated themselves in every respect to the golden era of reggae. The Revolutionaries or the early Roots Radics send their regards - if it was great then, why not today?

This concept only works to a limited extent. Pachyman may be talented and able to play multiple instruments - but that all seems just average. The quality of his bass runs ranges from unspeakable boredom (“Smokeshop”) to wonderfully groovy (“Babylon Will Fall”). The sound mix is ​​difficult and tiring, as the instruments are almost equally loud, i.e. mixed without dynamics. The Dub-Mix per se is unspectacular and devoid of any highlights: Sometimes a reverb, here a reverb; Pachyman is rather stingy with echo and the Mad Professor is much better at the bass, which is pitched high in places. And between us: Fade-outs are no longer necessary or common today, you can also use them as Dub-Mixer conjure up brilliant things.

So is it safe to throw “At 333 House” off the playlist again? Maybe; but one should readily admit to Pachyman that there is a lot of potential. I suspect he could use it better if he left the cocoon and had his ideas filtered, animated and implemented by the band, mixing engineer or sound engineer. Well worth a try, Pachyman.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


The Loving Paupers: Lines in Dub

Nice, again a "real" Dub- To be able to review an album - that is, one that was created classically from the (further) processing of a previously released vocal album, takes it into new dimensions in terms of sound technology, but never loses the reference to the original - in which it is the original musical and sometimes the textual message also reinforces, spins on, caricatures, leads to absurdity or transformed into the opposite. That is the essence of the Dub: Without the original as a reference there can be none Dub Give version; that would be as pointless as Dub-Tuning without a car.

Of course, there are still instrumentals of all genres in abundance, without any template Dub-Techniques and ingredients were developed. However, whether the mere use of effects such as echo, reverb or the fading in and out of sound tracks the term "Dub“Justifies, is a question worth discussing.

The Loving Paupers, a septet around singer Kelly Di Filippo from the United States, are obviously committed to tradition and have their album "Lines" also as - nomen est omen - "Lines in Dub“(Jump Up Records) released. Both labels and artists state “Lovers Rock” as the genre, which seems too short-sighted and has little to do with conventional, but rather flat Lovers Rock. The lyrics of the vocal album are too sophisticated and encrypted for that; the conveyed state of mind is pure melancholy and Di Filippo's sound, often set in two-part harmony, is very reminiscent of non-genre artists such as Rumer, the early Dusty Springfield, and sometimes Sade. The impression is supported by catchy melodies, which point more towards singer / songwriter, country or pop / rock.

The foundation, however, is formed by pure, original roots riddims: Without a vocal track, they could well pass as productions of the late 70s in terms of arrangement and instrumentation. Only the reduced highs and the associated muffled sound are the drawbacks of "Lines".

"Lines in Dub“On the other hand corrects this weakness and convinces with a clear, powerful sound that the Dubs sparkles. The difference is a bit surprising, as Victor Rice turned the controls on both albums. Its soundscape is still not for everyone, especially its bone-dry, almost tinny drum sounds. But the man knows exactly when to use which effect and when to fade in and out vocal tracks; the result is the subjectively best Dub-Album from Rice. It can stand on its own, but works best in combination with the vocal album - precisely because it perfectly carries the melancholy mood: A beautiful soundtrack for dark, rainy days.

Rating: 4 out of 5.