Fat Freddy's Drop are definitely one of the most interesting reggae bands on the globe according to my taste at the moment, which is simply due to the very idiosyncratic, hardly classifiable style of the New Zealanders. In the lowest BPM speed range you cross a puzzling landscape, where the ground comes from Dub, the mountains are reggae, the trees are jazz and the sky is soul. Perhaps it is even an underwater landscape through which fat Freddy, with lead-weighted shoes, trudges in slow motion. The sound is dampened by the water and turns into a dark rumble, while slowly rising air bubbles release voices and sounds. Yes, that is a beautiful picture. If you mentally transport it into the unique world of New Zealand, you get an idea of what Fat Freddy's Drop is all about. And now let's do another thought experiment by imagining that we're not enjoying this sluggish, casual, heavy sound in 4-5-minute bites, but in a continuum of 10 minutes and up. Because that's the quality of "Live At Roundhouse" (The Drop / Rough Trade), a concert recording from December 2008, in which we can listen to the seven-piece band improvising a song for 15 minutes or more. That this is the real, authentic and only true Fat Freddy's Drop experience hardly needs to be mentioned (especially if you were allowed to experience it live). The then unheard material served a year later as the basis for the album “Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW ". So we mainly hear pieces from this album, which is known to have deviated a bit from the reggae foundation of its predecessor. Still: I'm thrilled.
Neil Perch is one of the few, tireless sound system operators and producers who dedicated himself to the early 1990s Dub-Sound (instrumental or with vocals) and are still active today. Under the motto "Dubwise - No Compromise ", he has the rise of the UKDub and witnessed its decline, has been at the forefront of the movement with Zion Train, a major deal in its pocket and the fortunes of the Dub had in hand. A true veteran and Dub-Activist. Since 1998 he has been publishing mostly his own productions on his “Deep Roots” label, exclusively vinyl in 7 "and 10" formats. Now is the premiere, because with "Best Of Deep Root" (Universal Egg / Cargo) the first album and CD appear. The title says it all: here are the highlights of the label, 8 in number, always as a vocal version followed by Dub (16 pieces in total). I have a real love-hate relationship with the sound of Neil Perch. Actually, 20 years after its invention, I don't want to listen to a UK stepper anymore. The synth sounds have been used up, the militant beat has marched its feet sore. But! If the DubWhen the bass explodes and the bass drum hits me in the stomach, when the intense energy of the rhythm chases shock waves through my body and sucks my brain into the windings of the echo chamber, then, yes, I'm a big fan of this proud again , time-honored sounds from Mr. Perch!
Every true reggae fan has a small (or large) extra section in their record collection, which is dedicated to the work of Lee Perry. This is where the fast-bouncing upset recordings from the very early 1970s are located. But the worn records all come from the period between 1974 and 1978, i.e. from the time when Lee Perry lived in his Black Ark studio and created the craziest and at the same time most mystical sounds that could be heard in reggae up until then. The master also produced a lot of crap, which is marketed again and again as "obscure, unpublished cult recordings" to this day. But he also (and above all) created fantastic masterpieces, some of which he licensed to Iceland-Records and some to Trojan. The latter are now on the double CD Lee "Scratch" Perry & Friends "Sipple Out Deh - The Black Ark Years" (Trojan / Sanctuary) published - a total of 44 pieces, nicely arranged in chronological order. Of course you know them all and already have them in your collection, distributed on different sound carriers. But still it is an uplifting experience to hear them again with such concentration and to follow the master through the years of his work, to perceive the change in his style and to witness the condensation of his sound, up to an impenetrable jungle of sound. Above all, it is fascinating that Perry's recordings are still able to cast a spell over the listener almost 40 years after they were made. What is it that makes this music too timeless? Maybe it's the fact that Perry was little interested in commercial success and therefore just created real art regardless of market laws. But perhaps - to argue a little more rationally - it was simply Perry's focus on the sound that makes his music seem too contemporary today. While his competitors were producing real hit songs, Perry buried himself deeper and deeper in the sound world of his Black Ark studio and created an incredibly complex sound structure there that was so far ahead of its time that it now, 2010, perfectly matches ours today , "Sound-oriented" listening habits fit. Be that as it may, listening to the double CD is not only simply beautiful, it also fuels the respect and appreciation of Perry's genius. Unfortunately it burned out too soon.
I usually listen to a new album two or three times and then new material attracts my attention. But the new album by Gappy Ranks, "Put The Stereo On" (Greensleeves / Groove Attack) turns this practice on its head. I have now listened to it 10 to 20 times while new CDs are sealed on my desk. What a nice album! Produced by Peckings brothers Chris and Duke Price, who were also responsible for Bitty McLean's “On Bond Street”. While for McLean they only resorted to old original Treasure Isle rhythms (they are allowed to do so due to ancient license agreements between Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd and father Price), Gappy Ranks mainly uses Studio One productions - and we can do more find that what Coxsone has practiced all his life, namely to recycle his recordings from the 1960s and 70s and thus constantly produce new hits, still works. Perhaps it is the greatness of this music that inspires the singers to write beautiful songs again and again. In any case, Mr. Ranks is no exception and offers us (especially in the first half of the album) a couple of great retro songs, where you inevitably feel transported back to the golden days of reggae (and secretly ashamed that you - like all the old rock men - still loves the music of their own youth). I cannot praise the album highly enough. To my liking, it's even better than the heavenly-acclaimed McLean album "On Bond Street," which, to be honest, was a bit too sappy for me. But since we are here in England, a few Lovers Rock songs should not be missing from Gappy Ranks - and as the press information reports, the Oberschnulz song “Heaven In Her Eyes” was number one in British reggae for 13 weeks -Charts. But if that's the price to be paid to enjoy the rest of the album, then I'll pay it with pleasure.