Brain Damage, aka French producer and mixing engineer Martin Nathan, has explored and vitalized dub for more than one and a half decade. He has played a pivotal role in cultivating the French dub scene and has forged alliances with UK dub pioneers like Zion Train, Alpha & Omega and The Disciples.
His eleventh album Walk the Walk was released a few months ago and on that ten track set Martin Nathan takes a slightly different direction. Walk the Walk was partly recorded in Jamaica and lies somewhat closer to classic Jamaican dub compared to his previous releases that has been more experimental.
The album collects only vocal cuts voiced by five reggae luminaries – Horace Andy, Willi Williams, Winston McAnuff, Kiddus I and Ras Michael. It’s a personal and conscious journey where these veterans explore their own childhood and education.
They are presented to an atmospheric and spiritual musical universe driven by explosive bass lines and haunting keys. Walk the Walk is an unorthodox and welcome take on UK dub and roots with legendary singers sounding inspired and affectionate.
UK 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.
Pressure Dub Sound out of Italy is a connection between soundmen and musicians, and the nucleus is Mr. Dill Lion Warriah on the microphone, The Bassliner on bass, D-Mass on drums and GJ at the mixing board. Their sound lean heavily towards Zion Train and other heavy UK dub outfits like Alpha & Omega and Vibronics.
Their new self-titled album collects previously released vinyl singles along with new material recorded in collaboration with Zion Train, Addis Pablo, Madaski and Gary Clunk. It comes in a showcase style with six vocal cuts and their dub versions.
It’s electronic and organic, it’s roots reggae with digital and dubwise influences. Especially tasty are the dub versions with their pounding percussion, ethereal use of effects, vocal snippets dropping in and out and the bright horns clashing with the often dark and melancholic mood.
Darkness. The surrounding trees scatter in the grim night. It’s cold, below zero. Whispering creatures and unidentified shadows screams as they search for their next prey.
I’m walking aimlessly through a desolate landscape. It used to be a highway, now it’s only fragments of asphalt. Ash, leaves and stones cover the ground.
The screams are coming closer. I feel a cold breath in my neck and realize that I cannot run from the destiny that is upon me. This is the final frontier and I’m about to meet my maker. I’m sweating. It’s only minutes, probably only seconds, left.
This is a story that Vibronics latest compilation 12 Months of Dub would be a perfect soundtrack to.
Last year Vibronics decided to enter the new decade with an ambitious release schedule. Twelve limited edition 7” was to be put out – one each month. These releases – that spans over several dub styles – are now collected on the 24 track dub gem 12 Months of Dub, available at e-tailers worldwide.
It’s dark, uncompromising and filled with chilled beats and riddims. Just listen to the apocalyptic To the Fullness or the spooky and lovingly monotonous Teachings.
This album shows just how great desperation and hopelessness can sound.