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.