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Nick Sefakis: Foundation In Dub

Lately there have been releases that are primarily characterized by singers, whose voices can be described as “characterless”. That may sound extremely disrespectful, but it is by no means meant to be. Singing per se is not for everyone; not every voice can be used universally and only a few have this clear recognition value, which I would like to call "vocal character". It is this unique intonation, diction and manner that - if you want to put it that way - gives a voice its character. The reggae genre was and is rich in these unique vocal specimens: Michael Rose, Winston Rodney, Marcia Griffiths, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Eek-A-Mouse, Dennis Brown, U-Roy, Earl 16, Apple Gabriel, Don Carlos, Vaughn Benjamin, Leroy Sibbles, the Marleys, etc. etc. - each and every one of them is unmistakable and instantly recognizable at the first note. It is completely unimportant whether the tone is right or wrong; in reggae you don't see that so closely and sometimes the slightly crooked tone - the one between the notes, so to speak - becomes a stylistic device: Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear knows how to sing one or two songs about it; for Anthony B. intonation is a lifelong "Universal Struggle".

It is no coincidence that the above name dropping mainly includes the big players from the 1970s and 80s - a time when major labels still gave reggae great value - mainly thanks to Bob Marley, but also to the hype that followed his death arose: who would sign the next reggae superstar? Of course, even in Marley's time, other artists of the genre were more or less successfully built up; and as it was in those times, the majors made a rigorous selection: only the best of the best in terms of marketability, recognition value and ... yes, also ability. I assume that criteria such as naivety, docility and manipulability played a certain role; the investment had to pay off. If that wasn't the case, you quickly found yourself with small and micro-labels, which thankfully carried the genre into the new millennium after the major labels lost interest in sales.

The music landscape today has changed completely due to the dwindling music industry and new technical possibilities; the big sales drivers are live performance and merchandise. Everyone - and this is the key point - everyone, musician or not, can try their hand at in-house production, distribution and marketing with relatively little capital expenditure. There is no longer any preselection of the “best of the best” and the pyramid with the levels of success has become very, very flat - in the reggae genre, mind you. It is up to the subjective evaluation whether you want to see it as positive or negative.

So it's no wonder that we're confronted with a considerable number of releases today, which I would like to rate as mediocre at best. The reason for this could be a lack of expertise: Not everyone who has Pro Tools installed on their notebook can produce. Not everyone who owns an instrument masters it or can use it for the arrangement. Not everyone with a voice should sing - which brings us back to the starting point and the end of this little digression. And all because of Nick Sefakis!

Contrary to the suspected question mark on the face of one or the other reader, Sefakis is not entirely unknown: The man is a guitarist in the Californian reggae-rock-pop conglomerate Iya Terra and does a good job there, as you can see on YouTube:

Schuster, stick to your last: As a gifted string plucker, you don't have to sing too, especially if the voice in the lead doesn't do it due to the lack of the cheeky "character" mentioned above. Nick Sefakis can use his vocal cords sensibly: There are wonderfully layered, wonderfully harmonious old school background vocals on his solo debut "Foundation“- and to the great delight of the reviewer, he leaves it on Dub-Counterpart "Foundation in Dub“(Self-published) really come into their own. They put the hook lines in the limelight as smooth as silk and awaken memories of the great vocal trios á la Israel Vibration, The Viceroys / Paragons / Tamlins / Meditations / Heptones and whatever their names are. That and the absence or the reverb doctoring of the lead vocals over long stretches characterize this Dub-Album that can be described as successful from a production point of view: Classic arrangements and beautiful, balanced, if a tad too polished sound meets reserved, nonetheless fine Dub-Mix. Well, I would have liked to have had live drums on all of the tracks, but you can't have everything and I see the fine, live brass sections as a kind of compensation. I don't want to be petty either, and wave to AutoTune myself: If it fits, then it fits. With the occasional hip-hop beats it stops again, they don't have to be.

So can you “Foundation in Dub“As good DubRecommend album? Absolutely, especially compared to the rather boring vocal album. Even if Nick Sefakis probably didn't intend that: The Dubs are made for the soundtrack to the sundowner ... on 7-Mile-Beach in Negril, in Alfred's Ocean Palace. "Life is surely what you make it so I made a dream of it" - Mr. Sefakis is right.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

6 replies to “Nick Sefakis: Foundation In Dub"

I have to admit that I didn't read the review first, but first clicked on the audio sample. And I have to say, it is time for this “Twelve Monkey - Plague” to get out of the field very quickly, because (and not just since the video) I have a real desire for a live concert again. But even with this example my heart opens with the first notes, although I have been wondering for several years why there seem to be only white reggae bands. Actually, the Jamaicans (so that they don't always have to write “the blacks”) invented or discovered this. I wonder why that is. Well, it doesn't matter, I don't want to trigger a racism debate either, but ick I find it hard to wonder.
In any case, this is also DubDisc, very well done for my taste. Although of course I would still have a little bit of complaint. But not now.
I also think the review is very well peppered with small criticisms that speak from my heart. The decline of the music industry and the associated (especially for me) inadequacies, especially with regard to “quantity instead of quality”, is definitely to be seen as a disadvantage, even if the music industry has long ceased to support reggae - let alone for Dub - was interested. The fact that most “things” can only be streamed is definitely one of them, even if you see everything differently now. I find it particularly "tricky" that a lot of things are simply programmed in the computer and (unfortunately) sometimes even sounds and feels really good. These are those who not only work with ProTools, but also those who would be able to achieve something with the right instruments. Yes, not everything from the computer is bad. I can see it.
As you can often read above, below and between my lines, I am with this type of music - yes even "DubOverkill “overwhelmingly overwhelmed. Therefore I am happy that you continue here
as a critical "champion" of the seemingly impenetrable "DubDjungelDatenFront ”clears the way. In the past, music journalists were basically music journalists since you too, if I understood correctly, regardless of whether they are professional or hobbyist.
Ok, what do I write about “Foundation In Dub“? I would say I like it! ;-)
You know me ;-) …………… I always start “at the bottom”. The foundation has to be built on really stable ground. THE BASSLINES are always really BOLD !!! Even if it might suggest that I doubt something about this statement myself, I'll mention again that it is only “correct DubConnoisseurs ”can perceive how strong these BassLines are. In any case, they pump me up and stir me up - for the most part - really well. On the upper floors above the bass and drum (computer) foundation I like the “classic arrangements” very much. A really “fine one DubMix “which I especially like when small guitar riffs through the DubWolf are turned and appear as artistically cranked natural phenomena in a whole new light, have my magical and always fascinating moments.
All in all, the “disc” has a very relaxing effect on me, despite the pounding bass lines. I also feel very close to many Dubs reminded of Midnight. In doing so, I give myself the cue for the transition to the vocals on this disc. The style (not the character) reminds me a lot of Vaughn Benjamin (I hope he doesn't turn around in his grave now) but then I would have something to complain about. For me, ten percent of the vocal snippets would have been enough. So it's almost a vocalDub-Disc become.
Still, the grumbling is at a high level, because even if the voice lacks a little character, I have to say that it doesn't bother me at all. But because the Dubs groove really well, especially in the vocal breaks, I got the impression that less would have been more here.
Maybe a few more words about "Dub Scripture “because I (to be honest, the only one) I hear a few programmed HipHop DrumBeats. I actually find hip-hop drum beats
also really fat. But since “every breath you take” (as a hiphop version) these drum beats have been watered down too much. The horns have been sanded off so that they only appear as a "round corner". Well, at least you can't bump into it that much. "Dub According to my definition, scripture “is no longer more lounge-like Dub
through, but becomes "LoungeMusic" with a few through the weakened hiphop beats DubImplications, if I may put it that way. I like it anyway!

So, I'm going to bed now! Oh no, I have to work ………………………. lemmi

"The style (not the character) also reminds me a lot of Vaughn Benjamin (I hope he's not turning in his grave now) ..."
You are not alone there, I had exactly the same perception. Then there must be something to it.

I am happy to join you here; Mr. Sefakis is happy to play Vaughn Benjamin every now and then, as can be heard especially in the vocal album.

What makes Sefakis' singing difficult for me is… well, it sounds like he's singing everything on one note (which he actually doesn't, but that's my subjective hearing impression); the whole thing then becomes a single drawn out and boring * snore * for me and I lose interest in the message. Here, too, I weave a parallel to Vaughn Benjamin (in which I did not understand most of the texts, i.e. almost all of them ... acoustically or in terms of the topic).

Fun fact: There is a midnite track “Love and Light” in which Vaugh Benjamin sings “… and in Vienna, Austria was the wittness” (is not a hearing defect). Nobody, not even Midnite connoisseurs & hardcore fans or not even “the” Midnite specialist Daniel Frankston from ireggae.com, could tell me why he mentions City & Country or what this track is about. In this respect, I have doubts whether anyone can even see through Midinite / Akae Beka-Lyrics. But I digress again ... sorry, folks!

Hmmmmmh, break taboo or not?

Now, unfortunately, the good Vaughn has already passed away and I don't want that to come across as a bad lazy in the form of kicking.
But I don't feel completely alone here in my perception, or even rather confirmed. In a nutshell, I would say, Midnight never really reached me and even during his lifetime I said that he had way too much text for me. And now I read that I had the right nose again. Because I didn't bother to understand his lyrics. My opinion was and is that it borders on an impertinence for the listener if you text him like that. Unfortunately that was since the millennium
especially from Jamaica an almost unbearable art form. Capleton,
Sizzla and Anthony B, have to serve as examples. I never got what that was about. Burning Spear would have made three albums out of one tune of them. And on top of that, they also shouted a lot at us.
For me that was the worst time reggae had to go through.
Still, I have a few good albums at home out of all three. But they only make up about 1% of their total “sputum”.
I do not understand why this here in d-land does not turn into billions
where we d countries love to dance to the text.
Well, the Jamaicans also seem to have liked to dance to the text for a long time, the riddims can't be. Their choreographies alone
are more reminiscent of a little bit in between at work than of a good rhythm feeling.

But now get off your high horse again DubConnoisseurs.
I always liked Vaughn Benjamin, even if I didn't understand him at all. This always included the character of his voice.
The Dubs are definitely really good ;-)

I hope "my text" was not an imposition now ..................... lemmi

Spot on, lemmi.

Burning Spear is an ingenious copywriter - extremely short and beautiful texts that create images (how many lines of text does “Fly Me To The Moon” have minus repetitions? Only 6 lines according to my dull memory, it probably won't be more). If you add your interpretation of the lyrics to it ... imo just brilliant.

PS: I also do not like to have texts written to me, especially not with XL texts that I cannot find any reference to, that I reject in terms of content or that do not represent any lyrical value for me.

How now Ras Vorbei ?

You mean, Vaughn is turning in his grave? …… .. ;-)

No! I'm just trying to be a little funny again. I already understood you correctly (I hope).

It's good if I don't just praise my description of my DubI get emotional worlds, but when my perception is also perceived by others in one way or another.
I've been running a bit off the road off the track my whole life, but it is good to know that at least the cardinal direction is correct.

"East, West, North and South, Murders and Rumors of War" ………………… lemmi

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