Solo Banton is one of the newest members of the acclaimed Banton clan. He dropped his debut album Walk Like Rasta in 2009 and has since dropped the heavyweight EP Musical Addict, and now his second album Higher Levels.
Higher Levels boasts 15 tracks and has a impressive line-up of producers, including Kris Kemist, Roberto Sánchez, Dougie Conscious, Dubkasm and Nick Manasseh. Together with Solo Banton and his guests YT, Michael Prophet and Deadly Hunta they have made a versatile album with ruthless bass lines, nyabinghi drumming, uptempo ska and head-nodding digital roots.
Solo Banton is a fine lyricist sharing positive and cultural thoughts as well as an talented singjay equally at ease with spitting lyrics and singing faithful praises.
Just check Deya Know, the rough YT collaboration Politician Knockout over the Jacqueline riddim made famous by the late Hugh Mundell in the early 80’s or album opener Me No Know, a clever interpretation of the classic Ba Ba Boom riddim, originally produced by Duke Reid and performed by The Jamaicans in 1967. Here it has got a furious contemporary roots treatment.
Higher Levels is a natural follow-up to Solo Banton’s debut album, and is now available as CD and on digital platforms.
Bristol duo Dubkasm – radio personality DJ Stryda and Digistep – put out one of the best albums of 2009 – the groundbreaking and ground shaking Transform I. That album contained newly recorded material, whereas the latest Dubkasm set collects some of their earliest and previously publically unreleased material.
The recordings put on Brixton Rec are mostly dubplates previously only available via sound systems such as Aba Shanti-I and Jah Shaka. The vinyl version of the compilation collects four vocals – two by Tena Stelin, one by the late Lidj Xylon and one by Dubkasm regular Ras Addis – and each is followed by its cavernous dub version mixed by Aba Shanti-I himself to achieve the ideal sound balance on his sound system.
The CD and download version contain three bonus tracks – a melodica version of one of Tena Stelin’s vocal cuts, a vibrant track where Aba Shanti-I mixes and sings live in the studio and a live recording captured in a dance. The latter is as authentic as it gets, even though the audio quality leaves a lot to be desired.
Brixton Rec is UK roots and dub of the finest sort – it’s slow, melancholic and meditative with rich, hypnotic dub effects and lyrics about love and spiritual devotion.
The album comes with sleeve notes telling the story of Dubkasm’s early years including rare archive photos. Brixton Rec is released on vinyl, CD and digital download on Monday October 8.
Digitaldubs fourth album opens with nyabinghi flavored digital drums and a slow and heavy bass line. After almost a minute a melancholic melodica kicks in. The mood is wet, warm and thick. It almost feels like I’m walking through a moist jungle.
That’s the atmosphere when Brazil meets Jamaica in a studio that could have been Lee Perry’s Black Ark.
On #1 Digitaldubs have invited renowned reggae legends Ranking Joe, Earl Sixteen and Brinsley Forde as well as local Brazilian artists Dada Yute, Jeru Banto and Tiano Bless. These are artists sing intense and earnest about justice, love and spirituality in English and Portugese.
That’s the same recipe as on some of their one riddim albums. On Diáspora riddim, for example, they voiced Lone Ranger and Sylvia Tella alongside Ras Bernardo and others.
On top of the vocal cuts there are of course also heavy roots and steppers instrumentals where the dub effects are very much present. Dub Echoes Theme with its hypnotic bass line and flyers style cymbals is a great example.
Digitaldubs has on #1 created a rich album with crisp production, but without sounding polished.
I’m thankful to ROIR for picking up this release from its Brazilian obscurity. If you like Zion Train and Dubkasm this album is a must-have.
#1 is available as CD, LP and digital download.