Message Music an acquired taste

Last Friday I read a short article in a Swedish daily about the new Augustus Pablo compilation out on Pressure Sounds. The piece was written by Andres Lokko, a well-known Swedish music journalist, usually writing about obscure pop and dance music. If he writes about Augustus Pablo you know that he was an important and influential musician vital not only to the reggae scene.

Message Music collects 16 dubs and instrumentals produced by Augustus Pablo spanning roughly from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s. The tunes are rootsy and partly digital, partly with live instrumentation.

This is the third compilation dedicated to Augustus Pablo out on Pressure Sounds. And it’s the least accessible yet. It’s ethereal, meditative and unique as label manager Pete Holdsworth put it in the booklet.

Several riddims are familiar. The reworkings offered are harsh and potent. Ammagiddeon Dub on Jackie Mittoo’s Drum Song is one example, the stripped version of Java another.

This brilliant album sheds light on a previously somewhat neglected period of Augustus Pablo’s career. There hasn’t been anyone like him in reggae music since he passed in 1999. It was too early as this album clearly shows. But his music lives on thanks to great labels such as Pressure Sounds.

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