If Zion I Kings’ debut dub album Dub in Style was a melodious and graceful affair the second one Dub in Zion is something different. It’s more of everything. And heavier, darker and more experimental than its predecessor.
Zion I Kings’ bass player and producer Jah David is responsible for most of the mixing, even though fellow musicians Tippy I and Moon Bain lend their talents to the project as well. Together they have utilized plenty of effects and cutting-edge dub wizardry.
Dub in Zion collects ten tracks, of which the majority are unreleased rhythm tracks. And one would really like to have vocals put on several of them in the future. Many are eerie and grim – almost nightmarish – with a heavy dose of anxiety and wicked energy.
Standout cuts include the dreamy Humble Thyself Dub with its characteristic bass line, Incient Knowledge Dub with its lingering melody and Iritikal Repatriation Dub with its smattering percussion.
Dub in Zion is far from as immediate as Dub in Style. It’s a certified grower and needs a couple of spins until it can be fully appreciated. But don’t worry – it’s totally worth the effort.
Acclaimed U.S. production trio Zion I Kings is behind several of the finest reggae releases in recent years, including beautiful sets by Jahdan Blakkamoore, Lloyd Brown and Pressure.
Now comes the first album under their own name. Dub in Style is a tribute to the late drummer extraordinaire Lincoln “Style” Scott, who started playing drums in the early 70s and went on to record for many of Jamaica’s top producers as part of the Roots Radics band. He and Roots Radics are closely associated with rub-a-dub, a sound that defined the early dancehall era and together they recorded some of the deadliest riddims and records of all time.
Bassist Jah David, keyboard player Tippy I and guitarist Moon Bain are collectively known as Zion I Kings and for each production they work with a number of different musicians. In 2014 they had the opportunity to work with Style Scott and all riddims on Dub in Style were tracked in one day at the Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, Jamaica. The tracks recorded that day appear on releases from Midnite, Akae Beka, Pressure, Ziggi Recado, Jahdan Blakkamoore and Glen Washington.
And a number of those cuts – plus a few others – have now been given an excellent dub treatment by Digital Ancient and Jah David. They use some of the key dub ingredients, but they also focus on the strength of the rhythms and the real heroes on Dub in Style are the instruments, which are given plenty of space to shine.
Highlights include the playful Spare Change Dub with its beautiful horns and rolling bass line, the sombre Snow Hill Dub with vocals courtesy of pop/folk singer Sara Azriel and the militant Cold War Dub with its lingering Spanish guitar and fanfare like horns.
Dub in Style is melodious and graceful dub of the highest calibre.