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.
I’ve listened to reggae since 1997, and in these 15 years I’ve for some reason ignored UK roots and dub veteran Martin Campbell. And now when I’m listening to Rootspective: Roots Vocals & Dubs 1990 to 2011 Vol. 1 – a compilation with some of his work – it’s hard to understand why I allowed this to happen.
Martin Campbell is a British singer, producer, label owner, multi-instrumentalist and composer that started in the music business in the 70’s when he was living in Jamaica.
Through the years he has worked with many roots artists, including Devon Russell, Tena Stelin and Neville Brown, and several of these singers are represented on this compilation with uncompromising roots-inspired early dancehall. The backing tracks almost sounds like the taking no prisoners approach of the Roots Radics back in the early 80’s.
The 20 tunes collected here are vocals often followed by their dub version, and they were originally released on 7”, 10” and LP. Some have found their way onto CD for the first time and a few are also previously unreleased.
Rootspective is a low key and minor key masterpiece with sparse arrangements with a dark trolls and goblins feeling to them. The bass lines and the drumming pave the way, while the singer, the guitar and the keys just follow the trail.
This is an excellent introduction to Martin Campbell and his productions, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that will pay a visit to an e-tailer or a retailer to check out more of his output.