by: Jarret Lovell
Manudub – “Echocid Pt. 2” (TerraLogica Recordings)
Somewhere between the heavy bass of dub and the ambient sounds of the synthesizer, there is room for much sonic exploration. Over past decade or so, several artists have successfully occupied this territory, creating a subgenre called dub-techno, or dubtech. Perhaps most known in this sonic landscape are such artists as Rhythm & Sound, Echospace, Deepchord, and the entire Basic Channel label. But Manudub has also been at it, though he may be less familiar to U.S. audiences. Yet this French “dub-activist” as his bio labels him has been producing dub-tech for years, collaborating with a host of artists and production teams. Now, KUCI listeners have a chance to hear 4 singles from Manudub. Each track is firmly rooted in dub, with a heavy bass line driving each track. Yet this music is far from formulaic. “Eastern Dub Iration” (#2) is definitely a standout, with lush sitar and chanting opening a wonderfully catchy bass and beautiful echo/reverb. Clocking in at just under 8 minutes, this is a chill out track pure and simple. Tracks #3 & #4 have more of a traditional dub vibe, with the latter sampling horns and rasta vocals. I can’t wait to hear more from this artist. Play if you like downtempo, electronica, dub.
Arise Roots – “Love & War” (ariseroots.com)
This L.A.-based reggae outfit offers an array of songs (fifteen total) that are sure to please any reggae fan. While the bass on the opening track sounded a little distorted – making me wish for better production quality – the rest of the album quickly made up for what I perceived to be a slightly muddy sound. The vocals remind of Alborosie, and aside from the early opening sound, the album itself is crisp, with great bass lines and melodies. And the album features a host of special guests – from Rootz Underground to Seedless to Tribal Seeds and more. Be sure to check these guys out. You are sure to hear from them again.
Marty Dread – “Upcountry Boy” (Five Corners Music)
Several years ago, the leading reggae record label (VP Records) released a compilation of reggae country music. While the crossover turned many heads, it turns out that country music is popular in Jamaica. Marty Dread is a Hawaii-based reggae musician who has taken his own love of country to the recording studio. “Upcountry Boy” is a collection of country cover songs recorded with a reggae band (including SoCal hero Fully Fullwood.) Artists covered include: Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and Eddie Rabbitt. It’s up to you to decide if it works better as reggae, or as country.
Yabby You – “Deeper Roots Part 2” (Pressure Sounds)
I could begin this review simply by stating that it’s rare Yabby You and leave it at that. That alone should get this much airplay. Vivian Jackson (aka Yabby) is a legendary reggae/dub producer and recording artist, with albums such as “Deliver Me From My Enemies” considered a classic and among my personal favorites. But rarities collections can sometimes bank on the name of the artist rather than on the quality of the product. Not here. This is a great collection, with a heavier concentration of dubs – as the Pressure Sounds label acknowledges