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Review

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.
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Review

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.

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Review

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.
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Review

Sly & Robbie: Dub Serge

To anticipate: Sly & Robbie were the best, most innovative and most playful drum & bass duo - even if others like Style Scott and Flabba Holt sometimes did a much cleaner job, but never achieved cross-genre recognition. Sly & Robbie, on the other hand, were booked worldwide to support pop and rock greats such as Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Serge Gainsbourg and many more in the studio or live. There is no question that they also developed the reggae genre significantly with their riddims.

But that was in the late 70s and early 80s of the last century; the times of musical innovations and new musical territory are over for the two of them. Sly & Robbie seem to be trapped in a time bubble today: They reproduce their own musical past and more or less celebrate the riddims that made them the musical spearhead of reggae in the past. 

So also on their new release "Sly & Robbie Dub Serge"(Taxi Records), for whom they are nothing more than their own riddims from the excellent Serge Gainsbourg album"Aux Armes Et Caetera“(1979) have recorded again. Why? Only Guillaume Bougard knows that, who works here as co-producer and, together with Gaylord Bravo, the uninspired Dub-Mix is ​​responsible. There could be no need for these bloodless, endlessly rolled out and at best boring versions, especially since the original album (as well as its successor) has been considered in recent years Deluxe- and Super deluxe Version including Dubs was published.

So the question is: do you need this new album? Absolutely, if you want to hear how two excellent musicians dismantle their life's work. Otherwise: Hands off it and listen to one of the many brilliant Sly & Robbie albums from the 1980s instead. How about the epochal “A Dub Experience ”from Iceland's“ Reggae Greats ”series?

Rating: 1 out of 5.
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Review

Christafari: Dub Supreme

A band that regularly occupies number 1 on the Reggae Billboard charts and has a correspondingly large number of sales and streams - but is still largely ignored by the reggae community? A band that gives well over a hundred concerts worldwide each year, but is still exposed to violent attacks, sometimes also physical violence - for example by Buju Banton, who is said to have attacked and injured band members?

This is Christafari, a conglomerate of musicians around Pastor Mark Mohr and Avion Blackman - all of them devoted Christians who spread messages with their music. This is obviously not appreciated by reggae enthusiasts, although the lyrics, including the extensive use of the word "Jah" and quotes by Haile Selassie, are almost identical to Rasta-centered lyrics by other, generally recognized artists. No dreadlocks or perfect patois, which Mark Mohr has acquired in his long work as a missionary in Jamaica, help. Anyone who, like him, is critical of Rastafari, does not understand Haile Selassie as a deity but as an ordinary Christian and also rejects drugs of any kind, has a hard time in the community.

As expected, the abstinence is not noticeable musically - Christafari are accomplished musicians who mainly work in the classic roots reggae genre, but also well versed in dancehall - including the popular recycling of well-known riddims. The impressive back catalog proves the regular release of new albums, all recorded in the band's own studio and published on the associated “Lion of Zion” label. The fact that you can work on the sound without any time pressure is unmistakable: the arrangements are sophisticated, the mix and mastering are flawless. However, this technical production advantage also harbors a risk: Too much of a good thing can have a negative effect, dilutes the musical essence and tires the listener's ears.

Christafari's Dub Albums that complete the vocal releases are far from this danger; "Dub Supreme“(Lion of Zion Entertainment) is no exception here. As a roots-oriented Dub-Companion for the albums “99.4.1 (Reckless Love)” and “Original Love” presents versions that are cautious for Christafari standards and use the often exuberant vocals as well-dosed ethereal fragments of sound. Even the classic one Dub-Mix and the mastering are of the best quality - and yet: If the production weren't quite so flawless and pure, if there were a little more corners and edges and if the smooth surface had been treated with a little bit of dirt ... then there would be Nothing in the way of a first-class evaluation. As it is, it remains a good album that shows its strengths best when you listen to it loudly and with a good punch.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Review

Ras Teo Meets Lone Ark: Ten Thousand Lions

Rarely, but an album manages to impress with the very first track - for example, when one of the reviewer's favorite riddims thunders out of the speakers. This is what happened with Ras Teo's new release, which uses the Roots Radics opener “Country Living” - to be found in the original as “Material Man”On Gregory Isaac's legendary“ Night Nurse ”album. 

Ras Teo delivers with "Ten Thousand Lions“(A-Lone / Rebel Sounds Records) released a massive double album, which in addition to twelve vocal tracks also the corresponding Dub Versions presented and therefore traded under the name “Ras Teo meets Lone Ark”. The singer with the velvety soft voice is Angeleno of Armenian descent - which makes his sometimes deeply spiritual lyrics, which are presented in broad patois, appear in a somewhat strange light, especially since there was no corresponding ethnic connection to Jamaica. The singing itself creates mixed feelings: the man has a pleasant voice and hits the notes, but lacks energy. Anyone who expects a natural, dynamic range from quiet to loud here will be disappointed - the vocals ripple along too loud and uniform. The vocals are also highly compressed in terms of production; What can do well with polyphonic chorus leaves a stale impression with lead vocals and tires the listener in the long run. It's a shame, especially since the lack of dynamism is a general shortcoming of the otherwise successful album.

Of course, what is of particular interest here are them Dub Versions. The instrumentals, produced by Roberto Sanchez in his Spanish Lone Ark studio, have a strong relationship to the 70s, and you might think that they were recordings by the Revolutionaries from 1978. “Bad Friday Dub"," Hitey Tighty Dub"And" Babylon Crooked Dub“Are exemplary examples of this; especially Sly Dunbar's influence is unmistakable here. The backing tracks and especially the Dubs present themselves as a journey through time that couldn't be more impressive - everything is just right here: From the drums (including syndrums!) and percussions to keyboards to the excellent arranged horns, the “Lone Ark Riddim Force” apparently effortlessly has an album delivered to the master class. This is all the more remarkable since the producer recorded and mixed the lion's share of the instruments himself; only keys, percussions and horns are not from him. Roberto Sanchez shows once again that he is a profound expert on the subject, has precise ideas about the sound of his productions and obviously that Dub- Attended School of Scientist, Mad Professor, King Tubby & Co. If you like the sound of Sanchez '"Lone Ark Riddim Force", you will also find other Lone Ark productions such as Earl Sixteen's "Natty Farming"Or Earl Zero's"And God Said To Man" estimate.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Review

Dubblestandart & Firehouse Crew present Reggae Classics

“I've wanted to record songs for a long time that have great meaning in my life and inspire me. It was time to bow to a few handpicked artists, ”is how Paul Zasky describes the idea behind the new album by Dubblestandart. What sounds like a glorified retrospective has actually turned out to be a release full of content in many respects, venturing into roots pearls of the late 70s and 80s. Anyone who suspects the umpteenth Bob Marley cover is behind it will be surprised: This is where heavyweights like Matumbi, the Twinkle Brothers, Steel Pulse or Burning Spear are honored.

Zasky, mastermind and bass player of the Viennese formation Dubblestandart, this time also breaks new ground in terms of production technology - it is not for nothing that the album surprises with the title “Dubblestandart & Firehouse Crew Present Reggae Classics“(Echo Beach). Initiated by producer Devon D., the recordings with the Firehouse Crew took place in 2017 and 2018 in Kingston's legendary Anchor Studio. The result is one for DubA production that is very reserved and focused on the essentials, which is strongly influenced by the game of the Firehouse Crew.

“We didn't reproduce much or not at all in order to get the sounds as original as possible - this resulted in a very transparent sound image. Of course, the unique recording room at Anchor Studios also plays a major role; there you get a drum sound that just has the right roots vibe, ”says Zasky, who was less involved as a bass player than as a singer during the recordings. That too a surprise, set DubUsually blestandart on samples and guest vocals - for example by Marcia Griffiths or Lee “Scratch” Perry. 

Who has been the subject of "Dub“Has missed, be reassured: In the best showcase manner, the corresponding vocal versions follow Dubs, mixed in Robbie Ost's Vienna GoEast studio. Here, too, there is an unusual reluctance: solid Dubs that live primarily from Danny Axeman's grooving basslines. More courage for a sound adventure would have been good, at least for them Dubs on the CD or streaming version of the album. The vinyl version of "Dubblestandart & Firehous Crew Present Reggae Classics ”, on the other hand, waits exclusively with rougher and a little more daring Dubs on. If you own a turntable, you have a clear advantage here (and the CD is free with the vinyl).

In terms of sound, there are a few complaints about the album; so the mids could be a little less concise in favor of bass and treble, but the omnipresent trend towards “hot mastering” can also be felt by reggae and Dub not withdraw. One or the other will notice George Miller's extremely dry sounding kick drum, but Paul Zasky treats himself to a more than extensive reverb bath for his vocals. You can, but you don't have to like that - but it contributes a lot to the characteristic sound of "Dubblestandart & Firehouse Crew Presents Reggae Classics ”.

The question remains whether Paul Zasky's album concept will work - even sung cover versions of heavy songs by 70s / 80s roots reggae icons with the Firehouse Crew as the backing band. A difficult task that only succeeds with some compromises - sometimes better (Twinkle Brother's “I'm No Robot”), sometimes worse (Johnny Clarke's / Culture's “Jah Jah See Dem A Come”), sometimes surprisingly well (Burning Spear's “Fly Me To The Moon "). The crux of the matter is Zasky's uncharismatic voice, which fails because of the overpowering originals and also the classification of the album in the Dubblestandart-Oevre makes it difficult: Is it a solo album recorded by the Firehouse Crew by the band's bassist or at least one of the collective Dubblestandart? Perhaps the better concept would have been to have an album entitled "Dubblestandard presents Reggae Classics in Dub“And thus embark on a great sound spectacle without reservation. In any case, it is mostly those who boom from my speakers Dubs - from the vinyl version of the album.

Rating: 3 out of 5.