nights are here and the sun is slowly disappearing but it doesn’t stop the
steady stream of great reggae releases.
This round-up sees us look at the latest
releases all with a dub twist.
Singers & Players
– Revenge Of The Underdog (On U-Sound Records)
& Players – War Of Version (On-u Sound Records)
album from the On-U Sound collective featuring the likes of Print Far I, Bim
Sherman and Ari Up has a vinyl re-release some thirty-three years after its
original appearance. Label supremo Adrian
Sherwood has yet again re-mastered in Berlin and the end result is
The Underdog is slightly more complex than its predecessor War Of Words and is
a superbly entertaining listen for it.
Heavy on dub and DJ interludes it brought together the vibe of a London
brimming over on the punk experience and dipping a dreadlock into reggae.
Sherwood’s approach is revolutionary and creates yet another string to the On-U
bow. Tracks are simple but filled with
reverb and deep on bass. Opener, the
curiously titled ‘a Dungeon b Merchant Ship c Jah Army Band’ is effectively
three tracks segued together with some of the most addictive hooks. It’s bare and wonderful.
Some of the
album isn’t easy listening for the On-U unfamiliar, Follower and Resolution in
particular but once bitten by the On-U bug they become indispensable.
the same time is the War Of Version four track EP. Part of the legendary 10” Disco Plate Series
it features tracks from the sessions for Singers & Players’ first two
albums. Two new treats in the forms of
Calling Over The Distant Sea (with previously unheard vocals by Prince Far I)
and Don’t Be Greedy (unheard mix by Jah Whoosh).
If dub is
your thing (and why shouldn’t it be?), then War Of Version is a must own.
Natty’s classic 2013 album is given the dub treatment with contributions from
Dubkasm, DJ Madd and Mungos HiFi. Incorporating
drum n bass together with, not surprisingly jungle, the artist formerly known
as Rebel MC (Google it kids) teams up with guests Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry,
Scientist and Mala to make a fine album.
Tafari (for it is he) brings sixteen tracks bang up to date with the help of a
new breed of dub talent – Hylu & Jago mix Jungle Is I And I – stalwarts
King Yoof and Sukh Knight lend a hand with Microchip and Get Ready
hints of dancehall too which fit in perfectly and the album isn’t short of commercial
fodder to please the dub newcomer, but it’s when the tracks become complex and
full of more dub than you can shake a dubby stick at that they rise beyond the
Jungle Revolution In Dub is a nice twist in the story of dub thus far collating
traditional effects and a look to the future whilst keeping the feel of
remixing and versioning well alive.
Often heavy of bass, it’s an absolute delight and maybe one you should
be writing to Father Xmas for.
legendary dub and reggae producer Dennis Bovell releases a new album of
stunning dub mixes retrieved from his archives with the addition of some new
versions too. Using an analogue desk to
create some amazing material, the former producer of The Slits and The Pop
Group shows why he is so revered in the genre.
roots to space echo, Dub 4 Daze is a lesson in how to create the leader in dub
albums. The track Top Level Dub couldn’t
explain the album better if it tried, with played down brass and a lazy reggae
beat it typifies the album on which Bovell sings and plays many of the instruments
It is on the
dubbed tracks that the album really shines, and shine it does. Dub Affair features echoed out vocals and
reverb upon reverb makes the album an absolute joy. Physics Of Dub takes this one step further
with some backwards recorded sounds as an entry before more sci-fi effects come
to the fore.
moves along with a desert rock buzz and album closer Tuned Dub provides more
rich and pure sounds from the man that has also worked with the likes of Marvin
Gaye and the great Fela Kuti.
writer and multi-instrumentalist releases his tenth studio album.
Nitin Sawhney’s first new album for four years thing are slightly more laid
back. Gone are the complex Indian
fusions and exciting word interplays, to be replaced by a more relaxed
collection. A safer approach is now here
and sadly much of the excitement has gone.
is indeed a talented man and his contribution to the scene that also brought us
Asian Dub Foundation and Talvin Singh cannot be denied. The late 90s and early 00s saw him release a
string of superb albums in the shape of the likes of Beyond Skin, Prophesy and Human
– later years have seen him collaborate with a multitude of vocalists which
somehow takes the edge of his work.
Dream sees teaming with many artists – Joss Stone, Eva Stone (no relation),
Stealth and Akala whose words to Dystopia provide not only the highlight of the
album but also an exciting track which confirms Sawhney as a musical
trendsetter as a pacey percussive backing races along with confidence and
Us All too is gripping. With a delta
blues feel slowly glides along with interspersed (uncredited) vocals holding together
a repetitive looping melody which touches on the trip-hop/drum and bass sounds
that Sahwney seems comfortable with nowadays.
is still a presence of what he does so well here. Tere Khyaal combines Indian Classicism with
Westernised influences and sounds enthralling as it too sits head and shoulders
above much else on the album. There’s
another visit to the Mississippi blues on When I’m Gone with guest vocals by Stealth. The track soon moves into rock territory and whilst
it’s a decent enough track, it seems out of place.
is a lovely acoustic instrumental and once more shows Sawhney for the talented
artist that he is before two drum and bass tracks with Natacha Atlas and Joss
Stone make their appearances. It’s here
that whilst he is capable of writing in a multitude of styles it is clear that
this isn’t his most successful. Probably
acceptable on a larger scale, the tracks are predictable and sadly misplaced.
album ends on Dimension which features multi-percussionist Bernhard Schimpelsberger
and the pair create a superb near ambient close to the album. Dystopian Dream is a good album, but not
Sawhney’s best and perhaps a trip back to the incredible East/West
interceptions is slightly overdue. As
your School teacher may have said – ‘could do better’.
Bristol can be proud. The new album from Jemima Surrender is a
great piece of how to make music ‘your way’.
Last year’s Ask Me Again EP (see our 9/10 review here) hinted at great
things to come, and here they are in the form of The Uninhabited World.
Clearly not afraid to do, well, anything, the
band have put together an exciting debut of a long-player guaranteed to make
the most ardent music lover sit up and listen.
The exhilarating juxtaposition of Millie’s vocals against a hard guitar
and drum is nothing short of wondrous and the bands ability to knock out a
highly melodious track or three give the album sustenance throughout.
Opener, Hammer And Peg is as commercial as it
all gets as the hooks embroils itself around your aural canal and ties its
twisty tentacles around the nearest anchor point not wanting to let go for dear
mercy. And so the album proceeds. There isn’t a bad track here and the trio
know exactly when to call each one complete – nothing carries on for longer
than it needs to do for full impact, and if that means several tracks coming in
at around the three-minute mark then so be it.
Even a break from the brash and crash in the
form of The Cull sits perfectly in the running order and provides respite in a chilling
and lovely way. It’s all very 90s Indie,
but the best of it. Thomas Quick is
exactly that, and the electrifying bass rumbles along throbbing in your throat
like an angry wasp fighting to break free - “fuck your modus operandi”. Quite.
The two singles thus far, Sylvia and Or Anyone
are testament to the bands songwrting capabilities. The former, with its hilarious video (Google
it) was the teaser to the album and tickled the fancy that something special
was on its way. Dark guitars screech
against the light vocals and it all knits wonderfully together. Latest release, Or Anyone is less commercial
but no less enjoyable with the now trademark pop grunge and instant hook ever
Gentleman Jack is almost regimental in its
sound and In Sickness provides a chaotic grunge fuzz guaranteed to wake anyone
from their slumber. Closing with
Hysteria, The Uninhabited World is a great debut and one well worth the wait
and the affection that has clearly been poured into it.