Interrupt & George P combine forces for a vibrant and powerful EP of digital dancehall, equally optimistic about and critical of modern society. In A Rub a Dub Style - heavy on the basslines and featuring poignant vocals - starts with the fast-and-heavy “Ghost Faith,” as George P calls out Babylon for its falsehoods atop some thick drums and synths. “Me No Want To Mean Dancehall” is upbeat vintage in all the right ways, just like the cover art, while “Unite” introduces the slightly slower second half of the album with a conscious message of rub-a-dub. “Wicked Me Nah Wicked” embraces the power of positivity, a slight echo on the vocals paired with a tight bass loop. “Original Style,” pays respect to tradition, both in sound and lyrics, eschewing commercialism for the integrity of the underground dancehall sound. Closer “Suger and Spice” does use the phrase ‘sweet like sugar and spice,’ yet thankfully the smoothly polished vocal is sufficiently entrancing that the cliche is smile (rather than nausea) inducing. Perhaps not as widely acclaimed as Disrupt and Soom T, Interrupt and George P show they are a force to be reckoned with as they balance history with modernity on this promising six-track.
Blog fav Robot Orchestra returns triumphantly with another solidly impressive beat tape, as well as plenty of other goodies to keep your eyes and ears satisfied. Boom Blap is full of thick hiphopstrumentals, as well as some choice remixes. Openers “Bring The Noise,” “First Love,” and “Robot Invazion (Another Episode)” all let the crunching drums take the lead, the last of which represents the artist’s nom de production the best. “JAZz+jazZ=JAzZ?” is predictably mellow with some near-digital horns; “Keep On” glides while “Follow The Sun” surrenders to a clap; “Spooky Spirals (feat. RAmusiG)” is another slow-and-heavy banger. Many tracks feature a well-sampled intro, with Robot Orchestra flexing his range on the psychedelically-minded “Lysergide” into the robot creationism of “Damaged DemiGod 300” into the swirling radio waves of “Live Broadcast.” As for the remixes, Talib Kweli’s “Classic” is sweet and soulful, Guilty Simpson and Elzhi’s “Real Heavy” stays sparse beneath the hazy vocals, and J Dilla and Phat Kat’s “Game Over” is vintage Detroit by way of Cologne. Closer “A Tribute to the King (feat. Loop.Holes)” is an ode to a legend, pure boom-bap while the vocals bite tight.
Goodies? Yes, a three-pack of MF Doom remixes, the background music to three dope b-boy videos, and a choice beat:
Brazen may be exactly that, by properly emphasizing the dub in dubstep and the bassy depths of low-end theory on True Dub With A Step. The opening horns of “Jah Bless” make it clear that reggae influences will appear as well, but this album is more about bass-lines and whatever that dubstep ‘whomp’ should be called. “Freedom” combines a meditative vocal sample with a sparse drum, before the machines attack alongside a keyboard melody. The juxtaposition of sounds continues on the revelatory “Roots,” which is slow and brooding with minor keys and unusual instrumentation… and then comes the massive “Ganja Farmer.” More re-imagining than remix, it’s effects-laden vocals atop a dark future dub groove. “Is This Dub” pinches from Bob Marley, adding a thick growling bass beneath the echoed vocal sample to a track that at times sounds like a funeral dirge for a rasta robot. “Laysir” turns the BPM up, initially toying with a sample before dropping the bass in increasing layers throughout the track. “Pull Up On This” leans further into dubstep, before closer “Tribe By Fire” (feat. Jah Rocker) ambles back into heavy future skankin’ territory. This is a forward-thinking release, mixing the sounds of modern bass music with the theory and approach of classic dub. Free download via Soundcloud:
WellWell Sound crafts a low-bit digital reggae sound, with heavy drums and pulsating rhythms. Chemical Dubwise! is mostly instrumental, full of thick effect-laden grooves drawing from classic riddims, with several standout vocal cuts as well. “Wellwell Bionic Sound” sets the tone for the album, with swirling effects and a pounding beat. The remix of Sandeeno’s “Tear Down Babylon” makes the lyrics quite haunting, their poignancy emerging amidst the digital riddim. “Dub Medicament” lets the reverb and echo take over, as if King Tubby’s spirit just spent the night playing Atari. French vocalist Holiden attacks upon the fierce riddim of “Mauvais Mauvais,” which leads quite nicely into the subdued vibe of “Real Badman.” The standout vocal tune comes from Michael Prophet and Ricky Tuffy, who unite for the scorching “Your Love (Remix)” - an uplifting digital dancehall banger. “Drums Of Tron” is delightfully just as expected - more game concept than film, before “Tempo Baroque” takes it to some heavier depths. King Fula’s track teases dancehall, while the closing remix of Alozade feat Hollow Point and Mr Vegas’ “Unda Mi I Grade (Remix)” delivers to end on a high note. Puns aside, this is a distinct vision of digital reggae from King Dub Records, well-worth the listen and download:
Interweaving old with new, Dub-I mixes thick funky baselines with a sea of sounds and effects on Creation. In opening, “Black and Beat” sums up the artist’s mission with a well-chosen vocal sample: “strictly roots and culture vibes … in a different style and pattern.”
Balancing heavy and light, tracks like “First Dub” and “BC Dub” venture out into space before being reigned in by a heavy groove. “Satta Dub” allows synths and digital blips to dominate the soundscape, with drums and bass merely holding the rhythm together. “Revolution” bows to the dominating low-end, yet still allows echoing drums and a dub siren to enter the bass haze. These are not epic sprawling dubs, all clocking in at four minutes or less, yet neither are they simple beat experiments. Even the bonus tunes are full of teasing layers: “Weed War” journeys to a galaxy far, far away; “2409” is a blaxploitation sample away from being pimp-dub; while closer “Plantation” is a cleanly produced digital dub dirge from Dub-I + 25parsec = Fire Salad.
This is the first release from a new netlabel, Dubophonic, based in Cyprus and focusing on the whole of the dub spectrum - definitely a strong start.
While no means exhaustive, here’s a summation of what’s fresh in HK for your ears to check out:
J-Hoon has just had a Noodles track remixed by OPOLOPO; “Favorite Line" is a soulful nodder with a mix of synths and glitches paired up with the romantic optimism of the lyrics. If you missed it last month, also worth checking out is the "Asiatic Love" video.
RTHK Radio 3 has just debuted a new reggae and ska radio show: “The Saturday Skank" is hosted by Andrew Dembina and examines the Jamaican tradition up to modern reggae/dub-influenced sounds. First show aired on 01/06/2013, featuring an interview from Hong Kong-based reggae promoter/DJ Hidden Dragon, a tune from local reggae band Sensi Lion, and a whole lot more quality music. Catch it live on Saturdays from 9-10pm - FM 97.9 or 107.8, or stream at your convenience.
Mic fiend Loki Dolo has also been quietly releasing some instrumental bass x dubstep productions over on his Soundcloud - “Hexus DeciMAL” is the latest, with dark drums and synths:
Finally, if you missed it, I recently released “Free Dubs: Nox,” the third in a series of mixes highlighting only free-to-download dub tunes. This is a heavy mix featuring some excellent producers and remixers:
Dub Caravan and Hornsman Coyote unite forces for an inspiring dub journey. “Tribute to the Fathers,” with its skanking guitar and brooding trombone, makes Breath of Peace instantly captivating. The well-produced tunes continue from there: “Natty On Board” is mellow yet uplifting, while “Innocent Blood” and the matching instrumental is also solid. “Burning In The City” has a nicely layered and funky groove; “Make I Win,” the second vocal track, is catchy, with the right blend of roots tradition and innovation, while the Version lets the horns shine. Other standouts include “Air Raid,” which has the air of a spy film, “Spanish Town,” which mixes Latin horns and strong percussion, and “Egypt,” which is heavy in all the right heady ways. “Trail of Tears” and “Machine World,” the final two tracks, add Native American influences and crunched guitars, respectively, to lead this adventure to its close. This album is loaded up with impressive tunes - and while the groove is clearly and rightfully a priority, the quality of musicianship and attention to detail rewards multiple listens of these lush dubscapes.
Dubmatix has just released Rebel Massive, a huge album loaded up with classic reggae influences and modern dub wizardry. That alone is impressive, but then the guest vocalists really shine: from legends like Eek-A-Mouse, U-Roy, and Horace Andy, to dnb standout Tenor Fly and the versatile Longfingah. Where to start…
Oh yes, the anthemic “Pull Up Selector” which comes fully-equipped with a fun and frenetic video:
Big bass, great vocals, this is what a reggae single needs to be.
"Black Market War Dub," the only instrumental, more than holds it own, full of Dubmatix’s distinctive style of slow crushing bass and well-crafted layers. "Seeds of Love & Life" (feat. Luciano) is another stormer, and the early W~rm Dub Mix is spectacular as well. Lots of great tracks here, all sorts of reggae vibes to satisfy!