Tag Archives: Neil Perch

Land of the Blind is classic Zion Train

artworks-000105494252-z8gnhj-t500x500UK dub pioneers Zion Train’s brand new album Land of the Blind is classic Zion Train with its tasty mix of live instrumentation, organic arrangements and digital programming. And as usual the horns are superb being both melancholic and uplifting.

Zion Train celebrated 25 years in the business last year and this studio album features six vocalists, both fresh talents, like Jazzmin Tatum, along with Zion Train regulars, such as Fitta Warri and Dubdadda. It collects both new material and previously released tracks, cuts that have been released to wide critical acclaim.

Among the many highlights is the devastating seven minute long Dirty Dunza/Go For It with vocals from the fierce Fitta Warri and the more ethereal Jazzmin Tatum. The bass line on this track is just ridiculous and custom-made for breaking down the walls of Babylon.

Tranquillity Through Humility and The Great Flood/Gaia’s Tears come with a beautiful flute, while More and More and We Are Water are dreamy with smashing drums and dubby effects on the latter.

Fans of UK dub in general and Zion Train in particular will not be disappointed.

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A most welcomed compilation of Abassi All Stars 10″

Abassi All Stars is a project led by Zion Train’s producer and front man Neil Perch. The group has mainly put out a number of significantly ground shaking limited edition 7” and 10”. The first batch of these was collected on the compilation Showcase put out in 2006. A year later its dub counterpart was also issued.

Now it’s time for the second batch of Abassi All Stars 10” to be compiled on the aptly titled Showcase Vol. 2.

The album’s 17 tracks – of which Fitta Warri’s Too Much War is previously unreleased – are derived from six vinyl EP’s issued between 2006 and 2008, and are based on 17 different riddims voiced by singers and deejays from Europe and Jamaica.

The production is the usual Neil Perch – heavy bass lines, beautiful horns work and political spoken word interjections along with dedicated lyricists.

Some of the strongest moments include Omar Perry’s Daily Bread on the No Answer riddim and Tippa Irie’s Praises on the World Peace riddim. However, the best cut on the World Peace riddim – Beenie Man & Calib’s title track – is not included, which is a shame.

This strong set of heavyweight modern roots reggae from one of Europe’s most forward-thinking producers certainly deserves to reach a broader audience than those who got their hands on the 10”. Now I just hope a dub Showcase Vol. 2 will be made available.

Out now on digital platforms.

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Zion Train strengthens their position

About a year has gone by since Zion Train dropped the first single from their tenth album State of Mind, released earlier this week. Rainbow Children was a strong version of Aswad’s Rainbow Culture and featured its original vocalist Brinsley Forde alongside Ras Pyton and Dubdadda.

State of Mind sees Zion Train in great shape and as forward thinking as ever, even though several tunes echo from the outfits early days.

This twelve track set offers less vocals compared to its predecessor – the award-winning Live as One – and producer Neil Perch has invited Katrien Peeters to lay violin and viola on top of some of the tracks. The result is astonishing.

The tunes get a 1930’s blues and jazz touch to them. It’s like techno and dub producers are invited to a jam session in a studio in New Orleans. The most grandiose result is the frenetic and danceable Semper Augustus or The Black River Incident.

Classic Zion Train can be heard on the pulsating Ital Stew with its effective percussion or Great Leap Forward with its echo laid horns.

The most schizophrenic moment is A Tribute to Shura that borrows from Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black. It starts off as an electronica tune but transforms into a frenetic ska beat with a distorted bass line. Moments later it’s back in the electronica terrain again.

With Zion Train you never know what to expect other than great music. It seems that Neil Perch sees no boundaries and that is probably why Zion Train once again secures their position as leaders in the reggae/dub genre.

State of Mind is available as CD, LP and digital download.

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Neil Perch travels back to the roots of Zion Train

State of Mind is Zion Train’s first original album since the 2007 award winning Live as One. Reggaemani got a chat with Neil Perch – Zion Train’s front man and producer – on the making of the new album.
 
Zion Train has been around for over 20 years and earlier this year they were honored with a “best of” album, the ultimate award for long and faithful services.
 
Over the years Zion Train has explored and tried a diverse set of music genres, but the music has almost always been rooted in reggae and dub.

Neil Perch is a UK dub pioneer.

“The new album is going back to the roots of Zion Train,” explains Neil Perch over the phone from his home in the German city of Cologne where he lives with his wife, two cats and a big dog.
 
He is multi-tasking during the interview. I hear clatter and it turns out he is making a vegetarian version of Gnocchi alla Sorrentina with tomatoes from their garden.
 
“We’re vegetarians,” explains Neil.
 
But cooking and vegetarian recipes aren’t the reason for this interview.
 
State of Mind steps in two directions
State of Mind – Zion Train’s tenth studio album – is released on Monday October 3rd. It has taken four years to make – two years for the concept and two years for recording and mixing.
 
“It has grown organically and reflects a creative period. It’s the sound of places we’ve visited,” explains Neil, and continues:
 
“I like to think it’s a step forward. A drive to do something new. It’s a step in two directions. It’s a step towards roots with less voice and we’ve introduced violin and viola. It’s also a bit more electronica compared to Live as One. It’s back to the roots of Zion Train. Dub electronica and natural ambient.”

Zion is a misused word
The title track of the album is a version of Winston Francis’ Let’s Go to Zion, and according to Neil the term “Zion” is a misused word.
 
“It’s a romanticized word. We like to think of it as a heavenly state that mankind can achieve. We’ve taken the original concept and made it more global by expanding the word Zion. It’s a global concept available to everybody that reflects the spirit of humanity,” he says.

Dub poetry
On State of Mind Zion Train has also invited dub poetess Jazz’min Tutum, who Neil met when he did a show in Freiburg where she hosts a radio show. He also ended up producing her debut album Share the Flame, set for release in 2012.
 
“She has a particular perspective. A Jamaican woman living in Europe. She has a third-world perspective. It’s revealing and powerful. She’s a politicized female voice,” explains Neil.

Working with Brinsley Forde
The first single from State of Mind was released about a year ago. Rainbow Children is a version of Aswad’s Rainbow Culture taken from their Showcase album released in the early 80’s.
 
“It’s a powerful roots album from the UK. Rainbow Culture was originally based on the 12 tribes of Israel. We’ve updated it. It’s a worldly message for those who would like to see a positive change in the world,” he explains, and adds:
 
“The lyrics are very strong, especially in the first verse. We made it more holistic.”
 
Zion Train invited Aswad’s singer Brinsley Forde to record their version. Neil met him five years ago at a show at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, and says that it was an honor to work with one of his great inspirations.

Stand the test of time
Neil hopes that State of Mind offers something that the listeners can relate to and that it will appeal to fans of Zion Train. He also hopes that he can still listen to it in six months.
 
“I usually don’t like to listen to music that I’ve produced,” he states.
 
So, how long could you listen to Live as One?
“I could listen to the Live as One album for eight to nine months.”

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New album from Zion Train in October

UK dub pioneers Zion Train is set to release State of Mind, their first original album since the award-winning Live as One, put out in 2007.

State of Mind follows in the footsteps of the recently released retrospective Dub Revolutionaries – The Very Best Of, and includes the same tasty ingredients as you might expect – tough bass lines, horns, hard electronic beats and dub-infused riddims.

But it doesn’t stop there. Zion Train has taken a step forward and added violin, viola and dub poetry.

Aswad-singer Brinsley Forde was featured on last year’s first single Rainbow Children, an update of an old Aswad tune. Other featured artists are Zion Train’s own Dubdadda and Lua alongside Jamaican Dub Poetess Jazz’min Tutum.

State of Mind hits the streets on October 3rd.

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Zion Train has taken reggae forward

UK dub pioneers Zion Train has been active on the reggae scene for more than 20 years. The outfit – with front man Neil Perch – begun as a sound system and has since then fused reggae and dub with a variety of different genres, including electronica and world music. They have of course also released straight reggae and dub tunes.

The recently released Zion Train two CD retrospective Dub Revolutionaries collects 24 tunes, and includes vinyl-only rarities and a previously unreleased radio session for John Peel.

The compilation starts off with their first single Dub Power released in 1991 and ends with a Professor Skank remix put out in 2009.

The majority of the tracks is in the reggae and dub vein. And these tunes are also the ones that suit my taste best. The ones influenced by electronica haven’t aged as well and might have sounded better when they were released.

I’m not sure that this is a best of album. Dub Revolutionaries is for me a varied introduction to Zion Train and their music.

However, whether it’s a best of album or not is the listener’s decision to make. These 24 tunes might not be my favorites, but the material certainly shows what a great genre reggae is for blending with other styles and influences.

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Revelation Time – Steppin’ it inna UK style

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I should probably have thought about making a lovers rock mix. Instead, I have dug deep into my vaults of UK-produced reggae.

These tunes are heavy as lead and played by a bunch of musicians with a relentless attitude. Just listen to the hard hitting darkness in the Prophecy riddim. In its dub version it feels like you are walking in the dark woods surrounded by trolls and goblins. It’s a powerful experience.

In Revelation Time – Steppin’ it inna UK Style I have collected 24 tunes from some of my favourite UK producers, such as Bush Chemists, Neil Perch and Nick Manasseh. The styles are ranging from the raw darkness in Neil Perch’s productions to Vibronics somewhat jazzy English Girl performed by Boney L and Dubkasm’s meditative From the Foundation by Dub Judah.

As usual – Revelation Time is a continuous mix with no full tracks and some added sound effects. If you like what you hear, please support the artists, producers and labels and purchase the tunes. Most of them are easily available on mp3 or CD. Vinyl might be a bit harder though.

Listen in the player below and download by clicking the link (right click, save as). You can also listen and download via Mixcloud. You might want lower your bass settings when you listen to this mix in company with non-experienced reggae listeners. Otherwise someone might get hurt.

Reggaemani – Revelation Time – Steppin’ it inna UK Style

Artist – song title (label – riddim)

1. Colour Red – Revelation Intro (Charm)
2. Fitta Warri – Gideon Youth (Universal Egg – Crisis)
3. Kenny Knotts – Wicked Man (Universal Egg – Crisis)
4. Abassi All Stars – Crisis (Universal Egg – Crisis)
5. Jah Free – Rod of Correction (Universal Egg)
6. Abassi All Stars – Dub of Correction (Universal Egg)
7. Dark Angel – Free da Minds (Roots Garden)
8. Manasseh – Version Minded (Roots Garden)
9. Colour Red – Run Come (Conscious Sounds)
10. Ghetto Priest – League of Nations (Conscious Sounds)
11. Bush Chemists – League of Nations Dub (Conscious Sounds)
12. Earl 16 – Stem the Tide (Universal Egg – Prophecy)
13. Junior Kigwa – Jah Before Us (Universal Egg – Prophecy)
14. Abassi All Stars – Prophecy (Universal Egg – Prophecy)
15. Dubkasm & Dub Judah – From the Foundation (Sufferah’s Choice)
16. Dubkasm – Foundational Dub (Sufferah’s Choice)
17. Ghetto Priest – This Time (Conscious Sounds)
18. Bush Chemists – This Time Melodica (Conscious Sounds)
19. Bush Chemists – This Time Dub 1 (Conscious Sounds)
20. Boney L – English Girl (Scoops)
21. Ranking Joe – Original Rastaman (Scoops)
22. Vibronics – Original Rastaman Dub (Scoops)
23. Prince David – Evil Fi Burn (Universal Egg)
24. Moa Anbessa – Forward Dub (Universal Egg)

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Heavy compilation from Universal Egg

Universal Egg, a label run by UK dub pioneer Neil Perch, releases a heavy as lead compilation in September. The album is called The Best of Deep Root and consists of 7 inch releases on the Deep Root label featuring artists such as Zion Train, Vibronics and Slimmah Sound spanning from1998 to 2005. All of the eight tracks come with a dub version.

The original 7 inches included on the album were limited releases and has been unavailable for many years. Through this compilation many heavyweight tunes will available again.

Some of my personal favourites include Time Bomb by System Error & Michael Rose and Rod of Correction by Jah Free.

The Best of Deep Root will be available on CD and 2 LP.

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Reggaemani medverkar i RG Magazine

Den femte augusti är det äntligen dags för andra numret av Sveriges enda reggaetidning – Reggae Galore Magazine. Det nya numret innehåller en massa spännande, bland annat en intervju med legendariske dubmakarn Neil Perch, som Reggaemanis Erik Magni intervjuat, samt intervjuer med David Rodigan, Serengeti och Safari Sound.

Tidningen är dryga 80 sidor och trycks i en mycket begränsad upplaga. Vill du vara säker på att lägga vanterna på ett av de åtråvärda exemplaren är det bäst att förhandsbeställa redan nu. Priset är 99 kronor exklusive frakt.

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