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Hong Kong’s own Blood Dunza returns to Australian label Dub Temple Records for his second EP of deep bass. Exploring his own musical archives, the four tracks from the Heavy Hongkong headman that comprise Flipside are productions from 2008-2011 that have laid dormant until now. Fortunately - given that this EP was compiled for release just before a tragic computer crash! According to Blood Dunza, these are “tunes that I made for myself to play to get a little high” during Heavy’s dubstep nights. While he’s more focused on “reggae related stuff nowadays,” this is an interesting and personal time capsule from one of Hong Kong’s leading purveyors of bass music.
 
“Triangle” sets the tone: layered, with pulling bass carrying dissonant tones and a haunting Oriental melody that at times is given total prominence. Thick echoes surround the pulsing low-end on “Flip,” before the style does exactly that with a Chinese vocal introducing a sparse near-breakbeat. These tracks are simultaneously busy and complex, though the slow-building “Drifters” initially indicates otherwise before the beat and soulful sampled theme emerge from the haze. Arguably more directly influenced by the dub aesthetic than mainstream ‘clubstep,’ Flipside ends with “Timeout,” which balances 16-bit squeals of glitch with soaring synths. 
An engaging collection as well as an intriguing snapshot into an artist’s development. Free download:
 
Flipside by Blood Dunza
 
Hong Kong’s own Blood Dunza returns to Australian label Dub Temple Records for his second EP of deep bass. Exploring his own musical archives, the four tracks from the Heavy Hongkong headman that comprise Flipside are productions from 2008-2011 that have laid dormant until now. Fortunately - given that this EP was compiled for release just before a tragic computer crash! According to Blood Dunza, these are “tunes that I made for myself to play to get a little high” during Heavy’s dubstep nights. While he’s more focused on “reggae related stuff nowadays,” this is an interesting and personal time capsule from one of Hong Kong’s leading purveyors of bass music.

 

“Triangle” sets the tone: layered, with pulling bass carrying dissonant tones and a haunting Oriental melody that at times is given total prominence. Thick echoes surround the pulsing low-end on “Flip,” before the style does exactly that with a Chinese vocal introducing a sparse near-breakbeat. These tracks are simultaneously busy and complex, though the slow-building “Drifters” initially indicates otherwise before the beat and soulful sampled theme emerge from the haze. Arguably more directly influenced by the dub aesthetic than mainstream ‘clubstep,’ Flipside ends with “Timeout,” which balances 16-bit squeals of glitch with soaring synths. An engaging collection as well as an intriguing snapshot into an artist’s development. Free download:

 

 

Showcasing an inclusive approach - proving that musical peace is at least a reality in the Middle East - Israel’s Zvuloon Dub System combines Jamaican and Ethiopian influences to produce a potent and timeless album. The vocals, sung in Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage, come from lead singer Yalo as well as several guests, while the rest of the band bring a clear and confident knowledge of classic roots reggae.
 
From the opening bars of the instrumental “Alemitu,” it is obvious that this album has been lovingly crafted, with a strong sense of purpose and respect. After a slow lead-in with horns triumphant, the groove arrives alongside a dynamic keyboard solo. On “Tenesh Kelbe Lay,” another nice rhythm provides the platform for the intoxicating vocals. Hypnotic, yet far more dance than drone, this shows influences of the dub tradition rather than being true dub from an engineering perspective.
 
“Sab Sam” is a catchy track, sounding similar to some of the more triumphant work of Amadou & Mariam in structure and vocal styling. From there, “Man Begelagelgni” chills things out a bit, allowing a nice walking bass line to shine through before “Ney Denun Tieshe,” which features the wonderfully wavering guest vocals of legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed amidst more tight horn lines. Then “Yehoden Aweteche Lengeresh,” bearing some influence from Zap Pow’s “Last War” riddim, returns the album firmly to the Jamaican fold.
 
“Tsbukti Fetret” includes an elegant East African melody on the krar, a traditional instrument that appears on several other tracks as well, while a solid skanking guitar propels the rhythm. Hinting more at rocksteady than reggae, “Endemenesh” - with Zemene Melesse on mic duties - leads into the funky and upbeat “Zelel Zelel” splendidly, before the sparse and almost melancholy “Yene Almaz” closes out the album. Here it’s the masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, that harkens back to the Ethiopian musical tradition.
 
Through and through, this is world music in the most transcendent and intriguing of ways. An impressive work of musical fusion, Anbessa Dub is spirited and spiritual:
 
Anbessa Dub by Zvuloon Dub System
 
Showcasing an inclusive approach - proving that musical peace is at least a reality in the Middle East - Israel’s Zvuloon Dub System combines Jamaican and Ethiopian influences to produce a potent and timeless album. The vocals, sung in Amharic, Tigrinya, and Gurage, come from lead singer Yalo as well as several guests, while the rest of the band bring a clear and confident knowledge of classic roots reggae.

 

From the opening bars of the instrumental “Alemitu,” it is obvious that this album has been lovingly crafted, with a strong sense of purpose and respect. After a slow lead-in with horns triumphant, the groove arrives alongside a dynamic keyboard solo. On “Tenesh Kelbe Lay,” another nice rhythm provides the platform for the intoxicating vocals. Hypnotic, yet far more dance than drone, this shows influences of the dub tradition rather than being true dub from an engineering perspective.

 

“Sab Sam” is a catchy track, sounding similar to some of the more triumphant work of Amadou & Mariam in structure and vocal styling. From there, “Man Begelagelgni” chills things out a bit, allowing a nice walking bass line to shine through before “Ney Denun Tieshe,” which features the wonderfully wavering guest vocals of legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed amidst more tight horn lines. Then “Yehoden Aweteche Lengeresh,” bearing some influence from Zap Pow’s “Last War” riddim, returns the album firmly to the Jamaican fold.

 

“Tsbukti Fetret” includes an elegant East African melody on the krar, a traditional instrument that appears on several other tracks as well, while a solid skanking guitar propels the rhythm. Hinting more at rocksteady than reggae, “Endemenesh” - with Zemene Melesse on mic duties - leads into the funky and upbeat “Zelel Zelel” splendidly, before the sparse and almost melancholy “Yene Almaz” closes out the album. Here it’s the masinko, a single-stringed bowed lute, that harkens back to the Ethiopian musical tradition.

 

Through and through, this is world music in the most transcendent and intriguing of ways. An impressive work of musical fusion, Anbessa Dub is spirited and spiritual:

 

 

Demanding a full embrace, both visually and aurally, Golden Dawn Arkestra is not an EP for the faintly funky. Yes, Sun Ra is a clear influence, but this is its own cosmic trip. Opener “Afropocalpyse” allows cascading keys, half dirge and half call to prayer, to set the tone before the well-delivered groove arrives. Layered, with an appropriate focus placed on the brass, until the vintage vocal, tinged gracefully yet slick, takes the lead. Showcasing Golden Dawn Arkestra’s engaging ability to mix eras, sounds, and influences, the track only concludes once a soaring guitar lead is given its due.
 
“Oasis (The Legend of Nathaniel Horne)” eases into its theme slowly: spaghetti-Western bass and whistle alternating with horns and guitar for an entrancing desert odyssey, doors of perception open wide. “Dimensions” goes further into the psychic groove-lands, requesting the listener to ‘sing and dance’ and ‘come and join us now,’ as though psych-funk had fueled Random Access Memories rather than disco.
 
The vocal chant, heavy groove, and prominent horn melodies of afrobeat make “Masakayli” a standout, which nicely sets up the ambling future/past caravan music of “Saharan Knights.” Instruments pop, creating an appropriately massive atmosphere, before striding surf-rock takes the tune into sonic dervishes not often whirled. Dancing off with “Selemat,” equally influenced by snake and Moog charmers, this too-short blast of timeless creativity is delightfully dusty despite its polished elements.
 
“Afropocalypse” is available as a free download, while the whole album is stream-only until the August 19th release date:
 


 
As a bonus, in case you’re at all questioning how wild and funky things would get live, here’s a rendition of Mulatu Astatke’s “Kasalèfkut Hulu:”
 

 
Demanding a full embrace, both visually and aurally, Golden Dawn Arkestra is not an EP for the faintly funky. Yes, Sun Ra is a clear influence, but this is its own cosmic trip. Opener “Afropocalpyse” allows cascading keys, half dirge and half call to prayer, to set the tone before the well-delivered groove arrives. Layered, with an appropriate focus placed on the brass, until the vintage vocal, tinged gracefully yet slick, takes the lead. Showcasing Golden Dawn Arkestra’s engaging ability to mix eras, sounds, and influences, the track only concludes once a soaring guitar lead is given its due.

 

“Oasis (The Legend of Nathaniel Horne)” eases into its theme slowly: spaghetti-Western bass and whistle alternating with horns and guitar for an entrancing desert odyssey, doors of perception open wide. “Dimensions” goes further into the psychic groove-lands, requesting the listener to ‘sing and dance’ and ‘come and join us now,’ as though psych-funk had fueled Random Access Memories rather than disco.

 

The vocal chant, heavy groove, and prominent horn melodies of afrobeat make “Masakayli” a standout, which nicely sets up the ambling future/past caravan music of “Saharan Knights.” Instruments pop, creating an appropriately massive atmosphere, before striding surf-rock takes the tune into sonic dervishes not often whirled. Dancing off with “Selemat,” equally influenced by snake and Moog charmers, this too-short blast of timeless creativity is delightfully dusty despite its polished elements.

 

“Afropocalypse” is available as a free download, while the whole album is stream-only until the August 19th release date:

 

 

As a bonus, in case you’re at all questioning how wild and funky things would get live, here’s a rendition of Mulatu Astatke’s “Kasalèfkut Hulu:”