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Perhaps the artwork for Stone By Stone, the new album from tight eclectic instrumental funksters Ikebe Shakedown, sums things up appropriately: between the vintage overlay and the barren-yet-inspiring desert-scape, these stones clearly have soul. Opener “The Offering” sets the tone, as horns - led by the sax - ride a groove controlled by the strong rhythm section and slightly skanking guitar. A live video has just been released as well:
 

 
The title track takes thing into deeper and more melancholic territory, with the blasting brass reigned in before hitting free jazz territory. “The Beast” takes a steady afrobeat groove, led by the drums but empowered by the bass, and inspires dancing feet courtesy of an entrancing melody. Often called cinematic soul, ultimately this is beyond genre, a subtle display of impressive musicianship that is aware of the pillars of the past and the potential of the future.
 
“By Hook Or By Crook” may soar, but “Rio Grande” seems to have most directly inspired the album art, recalling Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass in all the best ways. “Last Stand” pushes the tempo back up, then rides off into the sunset; “Cover Your Tracks” then, is perhaps the most poignant track of all, as the seven-piece slip into a smoky late-night vibe before disappearing whence they came. “Chosen Path” follows a similar formula - not in a derivative way, just in the sense of an evolving band digging deeper into their own sound. The closing pair of tracks, “The Illusion,” and “Dram,” begin hauntingly and invitingly, respectively, as the former is driven by a powerful walking bass-line and the latter, while slightly more reserved, is opened up to allow the reverberating guitar to end things in psychedelic style. Ten strong tracks, definitely intended to be listened to in succession:
 
Stone By Stone by Ikebe Shakedown
 
A timely remix comes from Beat Gates, who takes on “No Name Bar” from Ikebe Shakedown’s self-titled album. Emphasizing the low-end via a slightly thunderous clap, the original’s spirit shines through as it confidently enters beat-tape territory. Free download: 
 

 
In need of more Ikebe Shakedown? Fair enough. Their stellar debut EP Hard Steppin’ is available here:
 
Ikebe Shakedown - Hard Steppin’ EP (Debut) by Ikebe Shakedown
 
And “Dead Wrong” is a cool mashup with the Notorious BIG:
 

 
Perhaps the artwork for Stone By Stone, the new album from tight eclectic instrumental funksters Ikebe Shakedown, sums things up appropriately: between the vintage overlay and the barren-yet-inspiring desert-scape, these stones clearly have soul. Opener “The Offering” sets the tone, as horns - led by the sax - ride a groove controlled by the strong rhythm section and slightly skanking guitar. A live video has just been released as well:

 

 

The title track takes thing into deeper and more melancholic territory, with the blasting brass reigned in before hitting free jazz territory. “The Beast” takes a steady afrobeat groove, led by the drums but empowered by the bass, and inspires dancing feet courtesy of an entrancing melody. Often called cinematic soul, ultimately this is beyond genre, a subtle display of impressive musicianship that is aware of the pillars of the past and the potential of the future.

 

“By Hook Or By Crook” may soar, but “Rio Grande” seems to have most directly inspired the album art, recalling Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass in all the best ways. “Last Stand” pushes the tempo back up, then rides off into the sunset; “Cover Your Tracks” then, is perhaps the most poignant track of all, as the seven-piece slip into a smoky late-night vibe before disappearing whence they came. “Chosen Path” follows a similar formula - not in a derivative way, just in the sense of an evolving band digging deeper into their own sound. The closing pair of tracks, “The Illusion,” and “Dram,” begin hauntingly and invitingly, respectively, as the former is driven by a powerful walking bass-line and the latter, while slightly more reserved, is opened up to allow the reverberating guitar to end things in psychedelic style. Ten strong tracks, definitely intended to be listened to in succession:

 

 

A timely remix comes from Beat Gates, who takes on “No Name Bar” from Ikebe Shakedown’s self-titled album. Emphasizing the low-end via a slightly thunderous clap, the original’s spirit shines through as it confidently enters beat-tape territory. Free download:

 

 

In need of more Ikebe Shakedown? Fair enough. Their stellar debut EP Hard Steppin’ is available here:

 

Ikebe Shakedown - Hard Steppin’ EP (Debut) by Ikebe Shakedown

 

And “Dead Wrong” is a cool mashup with the Notorious BIG:

 

 

As specialists in heavy modern dub, Dub Combe Records delivers as expected with the bass-driven electro-dub of Maxiroots. The See No Light EP begins with “Rightful Dub,” its dark synth melody lines weaving around a relentless steppers low-end before a mesmeric spiritual wail completely redefines the track. “Human Dub” allows a bit of swirling haze to enter into an otherwise clean digital production, one whose lead bounces between instruments while a thick groove engulfs the listener. For “See No Light,” it may be the titular sample that introduces the thick bassline, but it’s the darting horns that add just enough to the mix. Staying strictly digital,”Raising Dub” predicts the back alley soundtrack to an Arabian future. Skanking across crushing seas, final cut “Hurricane Dub” stays true to the unspoken proviso here: allow the depths of dub to shine. Contradictory? Perhaps. And definitely worth a listen.
 
[DCR005] See No Light EP by MAXIROOTS
 
As specialists in heavy modern dub, Dub Combe Records delivers as expected with the bass-driven electro-dub of Maxiroots. The See No Light EP begins with “Rightful Dub,” its dark synth melody lines weaving around a relentless steppers low-end before a mesmeric spiritual wail completely redefines the track. “Human Dub” allows a bit of swirling haze to enter into an otherwise clean digital production, one whose lead bounces between instruments while a thick groove engulfs the listener. For “See No Light,” it may be the titular sample that introduces the thick bassline, but it’s the darting horns that add just enough to the mix. Staying strictly digital,”Raising Dub” predicts the back alley soundtrack to an Arabian future. Skanking across crushing seas, final cut “Hurricane Dub” stays true to the unspoken proviso here: allow the depths of dub to shine. Contradictory? Perhaps. And definitely worth a listen.

 

 

Triumphant horns. Heady echoes. Quality vocalists. Massive bass. Tour De Force are all that and more, arguably at the forefront of sound system culture within America. Thus Battle Cry is an appropriate - and timely, given their upcoming Hong Kong gig -  musical statement, one that takes the past and produces the future. The instrumental opener sets the tone, but its the vocalists that truly capture the Dub-Stuy collective's musical vision.
 
On “Roots Lyrics,” Brother Culture serenades the origins of roots in the chorus, while the verses focus on the diverse modern realities of reggae music. “Strong To Survive” begins with a sample, pointing out the continuing presence of Babylon within Western culture, before a simply overpowering digitally-infused bass-line enters the equation: DUBstep. From there, Jahdan Blakkamoore handles a slightly mutated Sleng Teng riddim on “Pool Party,” celebrating the niceties of summer weather and aquatic activities. A touch of the irie, if you will.
  
Next comes the appropriately mellower “Old Time Love,” released late last year on a lead EP, with Jay Spaker crooning atop a sparser track that allows his melodic vocal to mix nicely with the thick bass. “Tiger Style” channels pure late 70s dub vibes, melodica and all, before Luciano takes his turn upon the mic on “Where Do We Go Wrong.” Introspective and optimistic, the lyrics promote unity and the necessity of neighborliness - an important theme given the role of sound systems in facilitating street parties.
 
Jay Spaker returns on “A Little Bit More,” a heavy rasta tune, and then the slow thunder of “Warmongers” reminds the listener that this is very much a 2014 production. In closing, “The Traveler” continues this aesthetic by laying an acoustic Eastern-tinged melody atop interweaving instruments. By the final fade out, Tour De Force has certainly made it clear that they are a force to be reckoned with; equally crucial is the sociocultural relevance of an emerging American scene to contrast the explosion of reggae within Asia, Europe, and South America.
 

 
Now available in vinyl and digital formats for purveyors of all persuasions. There’s also a recent mini-documentary by FACT Magazine on Dub-Stuy Records’ philosophy and outlook on music that is well-worth watching:
 

 
Triumphant horns. Heady echoes. Quality vocalists. Massive bass. Tour De Force are all that and more, arguably at the forefront of sound system culture within America. Thus Battle Cry is an appropriate - and timely, given their upcoming Hong Kong gig - musical statement, one that takes the past and produces the future. The instrumental opener sets the tone, but its the vocalists that truly capture the Dub-Stuy collective's musical vision.

 

On “Roots Lyrics,” Brother Culture serenades the origins of roots in the chorus, while the verses focus on the diverse modern realities of reggae music. “Strong To Survive” begins with a sample, pointing out the continuing presence of Babylon within Western culture, before a simply overpowering digitally-infused bass-line enters the equation: DUBstep. From there, Jahdan Blakkamoore handles a slightly mutated Sleng Teng riddim on “Pool Party,” celebrating the niceties of summer weather and aquatic activities. A touch of the irie, if you will.

 

Next comes the appropriately mellower “Old Time Love,” released late last year on a lead EP, with Jay Spaker crooning atop a sparser track that allows his melodic vocal to mix nicely with the thick bass. “Tiger Style” channels pure late 70s dub vibes, melodica and all, before Luciano takes his turn upon the mic on “Where Do We Go Wrong.” Introspective and optimistic, the lyrics promote unity and the necessity of neighborliness - an important theme given the role of sound systems in facilitating street parties.

 

Jay Spaker returns on “A Little Bit More,” a heavy rasta tune, and then the slow thunder of “Warmongers” reminds the listener that this is very much a 2014 production. In closing, “The Traveler” continues this aesthetic by laying an acoustic Eastern-tinged melody atop interweaving instruments. By the final fade out, Tour De Force has certainly made it clear that they are a force to be reckoned with; equally crucial is the sociocultural relevance of an emerging American scene to contrast the explosion of reggae within Asia, Europe, and South America.

 

 

Now available in vinyl and digital formats for purveyors of all persuasions. There’s also a recent mini-documentary by FACT Magazine on Dub-Stuy Records’ philosophy and outlook on music that is well-worth watching: