Has it really been more than 20 years since Groundation's landmark album "Hebron Gate“ appeared? I still remember that the famous, but no longer active Ixtulluh distributor gave me the album. It wasn't love at first sight by any means; it took me a while to think about the release back then: do you still need an unknown band when - in contrast to today - there are tons of other new releases vying for attention? In retrospect, my hesitation was a mistake, because the first time I listened, my jaw dropped. This was reggae the way I had wanted it for years: down-to-earth roots with appealing lyrics and various jazz and blues sprinkles that made the whole thing really interesting: here there were obviously accomplished musicians at work, with influences from other genres made. The fact that the album was recorded under the aegis of Jim Fox and has the appropriate (sound) qualities increased interest - obviously not just mine, as the feedback from the reggae community has shown (although there were also some reservations about Harrison Stafford's voice, which took some getting used to). ). A comparison with the two previous albums reveals the quantum leap in the development of Groundation - and so "Hebron Gate" ultimately became the (not yet so elaborate) blueprint for all subsequent albums by the band; at least as long as this line-up - including Marcus Urani and David Cachere on Hammond organ and trumpet - existed. What followed was a steep career in the reggae universe - especially in Europe, where Groundation, as a successful live act, played almost everything that deserved the name stage; the big festivals anyway.
After "Hebron Gate" the EP "dragon war' or the album 'Dub Wars", the Dub-versions of some album tracks - very tasteful work thanks to Jim Fox, who brought the simple beauty of the instrumentals to the fore and gave them an unexcited Dub- Underwent treatment.
Fast forward to 2023; Groundation is still there (albeit with an almost completely different line-up) and still has it, like last year's release "One Rock“ impressively demonstrated. The veteran Harrison Ford – who obviously managed to secure the rights to the Groundation catalog – is taking the “Hebron Gate” anniversary as an opportunity to revisit the album. This could very well have been a remastered deluxe edition - with unreleased tracks that were already too bad for release at the time, or with bumpy studio outtakes that nobody really needs. Instead, he had the idea of leaving the original tapes to Martin Nathan aka Brain Damage, who unraveled the soundtracks, polished the sound to a high gloss, then put the whole thing back together (sometimes in a highly idiosyncratic way) and provided it with a few additional instrumental tracks or sound effects. It is probably no coincidence that the title “Dreaming from an Iron Gate” (Baco Records) the word “Dub“ can’t find it again; that would also be short-sighted. Rather, the new album is an in-depth, at times psychedelic journey into the bowels of Hebron Gate.
There's a lot to discover here that was lost in the original mix and is only now being revealed by the sound, which has been adapted to today's listening habits - such as the finely chiseled drum and cymbal work by Paul Spina or some background vocals that apparently made the mix 20 years ago. fell victim to scissors. This often gives the impression of being in the middle of an acoustic documentation of the old recordings, in which special features that have never been heard before are repeatedly pointed out. However, one can certainly question whether the newly recorded, additional soundtracks were necessary: they are often helpful in condensing the atmosphere; sometimes, on the other hand, they seem to be asking themselves the question of meaning. Also debatable are the excursions into… well, into the psychedelic. In and of itself not an uncharming idea, but it slows down the natural flow of the riddims: It grooves along very nicely and all of a sudden, without any warning, (newly recorded) synths roar and sway along... a bit in the direction of Pink Floyd, one might think . You can see that as an enrichment or as sacrilege, it always takes getting used to.
Which says a lot, if not everything, about this release. As always, use the comment tool below for additional opinions and discussions. That leaves the assessment of the reviewer, who sees himself torn: first the album amazes and inspires, then it bores, then again one discovers something new and unheard; sometimes the excursion into the psychedelic is good, sometimes it's just annoying. Does the star award even depend on the daily constitution? So I play it safe with the rating and at the same time rely on the independent judgment of the local people Dubologists: What do you think of "Dreaming from an Iron Gate"?