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.
On Sly & Robbie’s third dub album this year they have teamed up with veteran mixing engineer Paul “Groucho” Smykle, who mixed a few classics back in the 80s, including Ini Kamoze’s ground-breaking debut and Black Uhuru’s forward-thinking The Dub Factor.
Sly & Robbie are two of the main proponents of dub and have played on countless of dub albums and also produced and mixed more than a few. And Dubrising throws you right back when to a time when the duo started to make a name for themselves – the early 80s.
Dubrising is heavy as lead, yet melodic and refined. Paul Smykle uses quite a lot of vocals in the mix, so the original eight tracks from the likes of Bunny Rugs, Horace Andy and Chezidek can be recognized.
This album is not as sparse as two of Sly & Robbie’s more recent dub efforts – Blackwood Dub and Underwater Dub. It’s actually far from sparse. There are loads of instruments to play with for a mixing engineer. Apart from the usual bass, drums, guitar and keys, they have thrown in harmonica, strings and flute. Sounds like a real challenge for a mixing engineer.
The mixing is playful and Paul Smykle has created something of a meticulously coordinated chaos. Vocals coming in from the right, synths from the left, percussion from below and flute from above. It’s a joy to listen to and you are keen to know what will happen next.
Among the many highlights are the militant To the Rescue with its galloping drums, wobbling bass and odd sound effects and Freedom Ring with its haunting synths, hypnotic drums and ground-shaking bass.
Sly & Robbie have been in the music business for about 40 years, but they still manage to stay innovative and original.
After Underwater Dub and Dubmaster Voyage comes Sly & Robbie’s third dub album this year. It’s titled Dubrising and is mixed by Paul “Groucho” Smykle, who is probably best known for Black Uhuru’s The Dub Factor, released in 1983.
In a press release the album is described as “taking you back to the golden age of dub” and being “heavy as lead, yet musical and refined”. And just as Dubmaster Voyage it features dub versions of tracks by Bunny Rugs, Horace Andy and Chezidek, among a few more.
Dubrising drops in November and will initially only be available on vinyl. In addition to the 33 RPM edition, a limited audiophile version will be available on a double 45RPM 12″ pressed on heavy 180g vinyl.
Check how it sounds below.