Jamaican singjay Ras Zacharri, who is the nephew of Buju Banton, returns with a brand new album five years after its predecessor Rootstep.
On Love Over Hate Ras Zacharri join forces with French band My Name Is Band, aka MNIB, and together they have crafted an excellent modern roots album with live instrumentation and versions of classic riddims.
The set was recorded between Jamaica and France and has taken about four years to complete. But it was well worth the wait.
Ras Zacharri dropped his first single in 2000 as DJ Bogle in reference to his given name Bogle Broadie. The single didn’t make much impact and some years after he was picked up by Nick Manasseh and his Roots Garden Records. He had changed his name to Ras Zacharri and together they recorded four lethal cuts and Ras Zacharri was featured on Roots Garden Showcase Part 2.
Around the same time he also recorded for Shem Ha Boreh Records, and that label is also responsible for this new album, which is his best to date. Standout cuts include album opener Look What A Gwann, recorded over a version of the mighty Cuss Cuss riddim, the urgent Protect the Children, recorded over a version of the classic Swing Easy riddim, and the Horace Andy combination One by One.
Best of the bunch is however the bright and uplifting Life together with its breezy dub counterpart. It’s a repeat button moment. Ras Zacharri’s warm and raspy voice suits these elegant, and sometimes militant, riddims and arrangements very well.
Veteran UK producer and dub mixologist Mad Professor has teamed up with Jah9 to add a dubby to her latest album 9. In The Midst Of The Storm was originally released for Record Store Day in April, but is now widely available, which is very welcome, since this album is exceptional.
9 was one of the best sets released last year and its dub counterpart is just as great. Mad Professor has deconstructed the songs and puts focus on various musical elements, drums and bass of course, but also percussion, horns and guitar.
It’s a free-spirited album where Mad Professor has been let loose on his mixing desk. The result is hypnotic and dreamy and challenges the listener. Check for example the sparse I Aware Dub with its ferocious, yet bright, flute dropping in and out of the mix or the psychedelic Dub Prevail with is militant percussion.
Mad Professor manages to put another dimension to the original album and together with Jah9 he pushes musical boundaries for a spiritual sonic journey.
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.
On French singjay and producer Biga Ranx’ fourth album 1988 he continues in the same vein as its predecessor Nightbird, released two years go.
It’s an electrofied effort heavily influenced by aesthetics from the 80s. It’s not reggae in its ordinary shapes and colors. It’s rather ambient and introspective electronica drawing influences from the Caribbean.
It’s a dreamy, scenic and futuristic affair with blunted beats and an ethereal sonic landscape. A soundtrack for a lazy and rainy Sunday afternoon – pretty far from sandy beaches, colorful drinks and swaying palms.
King Jammy hasn’t really flooded the market with new productions in the past 15 years or so. It’s only until quite recently he has put out something of a steady stream of productions. Not that odd maybe since he turns 70 in October.
Two years ago he dropped a combination dub album with Alborosie, but previous to that effort he hasn’t released much under his own name. It was probably the Dry & Heavy combination In the Jaws of the Tiger from 2000.
Anyhow, he has picked up speed in the past year. Last year he released New Sounds of Freedom, a set where he reworked Black Uhuru’s Black Sounds of Freedom with a new generation of artists. And just a few weeks ago King Jammy put out Waterhouse Dub via Greensleeves.
On Waterhouse Dub this veteran dub champion tackles – together with his sons Jam Two, John John and Baby G – classics from his vaults of productions from the late 70s and early 80s. It’s a strong selection of rhythms delivered with boosted bass lines, vocal interjections and introductions, sonic effects and a heavy dose of delay and reverb.
From Waterhouse to the world – long live the King!
A year after Alborosie’s latest album Freedom & Fyah comes its dub counterpart Freedom in Dub, a set where this multi-talented musician and singer dubs ten of the original album’s 13 cuts with excellent result.
Alborosie is far from a novice when it comes with dub wizardry. His first dub album Dub Clash was put out in 2010 and was then followed by Dub the System in 2013 and the King Jammy combination set Dub of Thrones.
On Freedom in Dub he once again proves that he’s a potent dub force taking the listener to the roots of reggae – the drums and the bass. And it’s all about the music on this effort. Almost all vocals have been removed and Alborosie showcases the sheer strength and power of his riddims.
Dubbing in the Backyard is the latest release from UK’s reggae reissue giant Pressure Sounds. It’s a slice of early 80s dub with riddims mostly laid by members of the High Times Band and mixed expertly by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s studio in Kingston.
The dubs are crisp, tight and sometimes viciously heavy and are versions of vocal cuts originally voiced by some of Jamaica’s finest singers – Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Jackie Edwards and Johnny Clarke. However, traces of the vocals cannot be found.
The sleevenotes is partly a journey of the making of the reggae documentary Deep Roots and Bunny Lee reveals anecdotes from recording sessions as well as the making of this album. It’s a detailed and fascinating story.
The King, the Prince and the Gorgon have always been a great combination. And this set is no exception.
Austrian label and its main producer Syrix has dropped an earth-shaking, yet melodic, dub album filled with versions of hits from some of the artists that have recorded for the label.
On Dub Station Syrix has turned up the bass and let all his creativity flow throughout the label. The version of Luciano’s Hard Road is a booming one with loads of vocals from the original cut. Another killer track is the pulsating version of Anthony B’s Freedom Fighter with its bright horns and Anthony B’s authoritative voice echoing back and forth in the mix.
Dubheads should not sleep on this one.
Augustus Pablo’s King David’s Melody is a collection of self-produced singles issued between circa 1975 and 1982 and it was originally released in 1983 and has since been reissued several times, often with bonus material.
The latest reissue comes from Greensleeves – a label that has released it two times before – and it collects the original album along with nine extra dubs sourced from the original singles.
This album showcases Augustus Pablo in all his glory. The original album contains mostly melodica-led instrumentals and the sonic landscape is airy and relaxed with uplifting melodies, while the dubs provides a more militant and trippy side of this musical mastermind.
One of my most anticipated albums in 2016 was former Aswad lead singer Brinsley Ford’s new album with Sly & Robbie. Unfortunately, it has been postponed until 2017, but the next best thing arrived the other day.
One Fine Dub is the dub counterpart to the yet to be released vocal version. This is an unorthodox and unusual approach, but very welcome.
The album is produced by Sly & Robbie along with Guillaume Bougard and mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle, a legendary engineer responsible for the innovative Dubrising released two years ago.
The set kicks off with the atmospheric Until Dub and the moody soundscape continues throughout the eight remaining cuts. Creation Dub, with its ethereal harmonica, is one fine example. One Fine Dub, with its militant drumming and apocalyptic synthesizers, is another.
This dub album certainly bodes well for the upcoming vocal version, a set that according to Guillaume Bougard needs to be hard and heavy with a Jamaican sound.