's From The Top
features consistently tight dub/reggae production, in addition to a bevy of smooth-singing guest vocalists, allowing the whole album to glide along with a firm sense of identity, purpose, and place. Lighter future roots? Aware modern dub? Regardless, it’s all thick multi-faceted grooves that cleverly still sound sparse.
Turbo Turps and Billy Berry alternate on the mic on “Western Rumors,” a gripping vocal examination of present-day socioeconomic concerns. A taught delayed guitar and echoed effects carry the track even when the riddim section is cut out. The first of two Shanti D tracks, “Don’t Love My Style,” celebrates rub-a-dub, from its drum-and-bass to its echo chamber to its sinsemilla, all sung in the seasoned French MC’s distinctive style. Ranking Joe’s opening shoutout to Big Family Sound precedes a rather unique production, with samba-esque digital drums and a pitch-shifting synth melody. “Steppaddict,” with Mael Hornsraid providing the funky, layered horns, is a hazy-yet-polished instrumental; then Billy Berry returns on vocals - which sound especially inspiring when given room to breathe - atop an arrangement that hints at an Afrika Bambaataa influence. Immediately following is the dub, which takes the traditional approach of introducing the original track before pulling out, and then experimenting with, instruments and voice alike.
“Chant In Down (Ruff Cut)” appears to feature an uncredited Billy Berry, but the clear priority is the heavy dubbing, including some doom-filled low-end rumblings. “Get Out,” with Mighty Cricket, follows a similar ‘verse into chaos’ formula, though the track drags just a bit as the dub completely collapses and then staggers forward for several more minutes. Next, Shanti D chants down urbanity on the seemingly sparse “Beware; thankfully the horns tease just enough as the rhythm provides a sturdy musical framework. “Swimming With The Dub” does carry some aquatic qualities, with its plinking guitars, but it’s the dubbed-out vocals (from “Beware”) and the second-half shift of the groove to the forefront that make this version so memorable.
As the album winds down, “Riddim Wise” - a slightly crashing instrumental - keeps it short and sweet; in closing, the spiritual “Sâdhu Teachings” mixes the dub aesthetic with subcontinental influences, including a powerful-yet-uncredited female vocal. Available for free digital download from ODG Productions
, which continues to carve out a crucial niche for itself in the modern dubiverse.