Tagged: reggae

The Infinity Dub Sessions: an uneven set of dark desperate dub techno minimalism

infinity

Deadbeat and Paul St Hilaire, The Infinity Dub Sessions, BLKRTZ, CD BLKRTZ008 (2014)

Although this CD represents their first studio recording together, the two artists Deadbeat aka Scott Monteith and Paul St Hilaire aka Tikiman have collaborated in live situations on and off since they met over a decade ago in Montreal and discovered a common interest in dub music. On this album, the duo have gone for a dark minimalist musical approach on songs bound by a theme of the stress of modern life and how one can find comfort and purpose in a hard world where machine rhythms and routines dictate our thinking and behaviour.

There’s a sense of desperation in the opener “Hold On Strong”, a relentless and bleak if understated pulsing track. Reggae influences are strong in this song and on all other songs: they are in the rhythms, the voices and the music and lyric structures. What listeners might not expect is the cold and subtle, near-industrial nature of the sounds nor the open black spaces within each and every piece. A strong sense of urban alienation and a feeling of a cold, seemingly forbidding yet alluring and seductive hyper-technology that dominates life are present. An unseen eminence grise, sensed more than heard or felt yet pulling the strings here, might be moving slowly and confidently in the deep dark background.

Hope and frustration mix in tracks like “What the Heck Them Expect”, notable for its superficially lazy-loping rhythm, and “Working Everyday”, a repeating mantra of resignation and despair over an insistent looping rhythm that lures you into its dark trance world: this is the strongest track on the album in spite of (or maybe because of) its never-ending Moebius-strip structure. Sparse, seemingly empty yet yielding ever more from its depths, this soundtrack to work drudgery might just be in danger of advertising for it; the two dub musicians should not push their luck too hard. The constant repetition is both asset and liability: a couple of later songs on the album drag the whole thing down with repeating loops of unremarkable music and lyrics (“Rock of Creation” and “Little Darling”) though some of the sound effects can be good. Closing track “Peace and Love” brings an impression of hope over despair with an emotionally moving rhythm, a strong beat and
equally affecting melodies and lyrics.

It has its ups and downs and I’m sorry to say they’re in the ratio of 50:50 for this style of dark minimalist dub techno. The music is beautifully constructed with gorgeous sounds, a clear three-dimensional ambience and memorable rhythm structures. It’s weak in the song-writing department with too much repetition in most tracks which sometimes give an impression of not knowing how to climax and then get out of the way quickly. I’m sure though the two musicians will continue working together in the studio because the sound they have is too good to leave to just one album. I confess I don’t listen to much dub and reggae at all but I think I know a quality act when I hear one and these guys definitely have the potential to be leaders in their genre.

Contact: Deadbeat / BLKRTZ

Modern Ghanaians: a compilation of fusion Ghanaian / Western pop music genres

kingayisoba439

King Ayisoba, Modern Ghanaians, Netherlands, Makkum Records, CD MR8 (2013)

Apparently this album is a compilation made after 2006 of King Ayisoba’s most popular songs from other recordings released on the Pidgen Music label, which would explain why the music is relentlessly upbeat and doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary for me. This is very highly rhythmic music with a lot of call-and-response singing from a solo singer and a chorus, and it’s very light in its instrumentation. Several instruments may be playing at once but all are usually following the same melody and rhythms; they can hardly be said to be in harmony (European-style, anyway). The music lends itself easily to dancing; of course a lot of people would say, well, it’s Ghanaian pop music, it’s rhythmic, so it should be dance music, shouldn’t it? – but I have heard some (though not much) African pop music that is undanceable, so I never jump to conclusions about something simply because it comes from one particular region of the world.

The best tracks on the album are those that feature instruments unique to northern Ghana where King Ayisoba hails from: “Don’t joke to your father” features an acoustic stringed instrument (I think it’s called the kologo) which has a quality rather like a plucked violin that doesn’t resonate well but sounds a bit on the raw side – it lends itself to very intense emotive singing. On the next track, “Baaba poore”, the kologo again figures and there is another instrument providing some muted rhythm (it sounds as if someone is rubbing something to produce a sound like a muted barking dog). The singing on these songs verges on raucous but is usually restrained; it rarely breaks out into spontaneous chaotic celebration.

Other songs on the album are a mix of Western pop styles from different time periods which might be a bit disconcerting for those of us who think we’ve seen and heard everything there is to see and hear, and that old styles of popular music no longer hold much creative potential. Think again, folks: melodies and rhythms that might have sprung from the disco or reggae scenes a hundred years in the 1970s undergo sudden rejuvenation when juxtaposed with West African styles of singing and rhythms, and local instruments. The style of music featured is referred to as hip life which features hip hop and dancehall elements (and which should not be confused with hi-life which is an older style of pop music from West Africa). Lyrics are often in English (though delivered in Ghanaian accents) and refer to topics and social issues relevant to Ghanaians in their daily lives: for one, families pleading for the return of their fathers (“I want to see you my father”) who are enjoying themselves with mistresses at the expense of their children. Of these more Western-oriented songs, the best is “Don’t do the bad thing” which has a strong driving bass-heavy rhythm against which more delicate instruments such as flute and a stringed instrument flutter.

I must confess that after hearing Congolese bands like Konono No 1 with their blend of folk music traditions, electrified instruments made from scrap and junk materials and hypnotic beats and rhythms, this album does very little for me. I have the impression though that King Ayisoba’s music might be representative of an emerging style of music stripped right down to its basics to appeal to a wide urban Ghanaian audience whose origins are extremely mixed and who have particular needs and demands of popular music: a style of music drawing inspiration from traditional music forms and the latest overseas imports.

God Has No Colour IV

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Friday 1st June 2012

  1. Extremadura, ‘Beta, Seekers of Smooth Things’
  2. The Silvertones, ‘African Dub’
  3. Scientist, ‘Coxsone Feel This One – Dub’
  4. Scientist, ‘Tribute to the Reggae King Dub’
  5. King Tubby, ‘Whispering Dub’
  6. Mikey Dread, ‘Dread at the Mantrols’
  7. Earl Rodney, ‘Peace Pipe’
  8. Augustus Pablo, ‘Short Man Dub’
  9. Augustus Pablo, ‘Up Warrika Hill’
  10. Keith Hudson, ‘Man From Shooter’s Hill’
  11. The Maytals, ‘Night and Day’
  12. King Tubby, ‘Scientist’s Oldtime Dub’
  13. King Tubby, ‘St Andrew Dub’
  14. The Rootsman, ‘Wadada (Sema Mix)’
  15. Scientist & Prince Jammie, ‘Denial’
  16. King Tubby, ‘A Closer Dub’
  17. Brentford All Stars, ‘Greedy G’
  18. Augustus Pablo, ‘Brace A Boy’
  19. Johnny Clarke & The Aggrovators, ‘A Ruffer Version’
  20. The Upsetters, ‘V/S Panta Rock’
  21. The Heptones, ‘Sufferer’s Time’

1, 14 from Macro Dub Infection Volume 1, UK VIRGIN 7243 8 40475 2 8 2 x CD (1995)
2, 20 from Trojan Presents: Dub – 40 Deep And Heavy Hits, TROJAN RECORDS SPECXX2072 2 x CD (2011)
3 from Dub War (Coxsone Vs Quaker City), IMPERIAL RECORDS IC 8016 (1981)
4 from Dub From The Ghetto, SANCTUARY RZACD014 CD (2006)
5 from Herb Dub, Collie Dub, JIGSAW JS 004 (1976)
6, 21 from Arkology, ISLAND JAMAICA CRNCD 6 3 x CD (1997)
7 from Friends & Countrymen, JAPAN EM RECORDS EM1077CD (2008)
8 from Rockers Meets King Tubbys In A Fire House, JET STAR CDRP 019 (1999)
9, 18 from Original Rockers, GREENSLEEVES REGGAE CLASSICS GREWCD8 CD (2001)
10, 19 from Lion Vs Dragon In Dub, TROJAN RECORDS TJCCD368 (2007)
11, 17 from 100% Dynamite!, SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJR CD 40 (1998)
12 from King Tubby Meets The Scientist In A Revival Dub, ROOTS RECORDS RJMCD111 (2009)
13 from The Lost Midnight Rock Rubs Chapter 2, ROOTS RECORDS RJMCD116 (2011)
15 from Dub Landing Volume 2, STARLIGHT RECORDS SLDLP 903 (1982)
16 from King Tubby Presents The Roots Of Dub, TOTAL SOUNDS TSL105 (1976)

God Has No Colour III (TSP radio 22/08/08)

  1. Don Drummond, ‘Man in the Street’
    From The Trojan Story v/a comp (1972), UK TROJAN RECORDS CDTAL100 2xCD (1988 reissue)
  2. Prince Francis, ‘Rock Fort Shock’
    From Studio One DJ’s v/a comp, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD58 (2002)
  3. King Tubby, ‘Casanova Dub’
    From Essential Dub comp, UK METRO METRCD021 CD (2000)
  4. Augustus Pablo, ‘King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown’
    From King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, JA ROCKERS INTERNATIONAL CDRP005 CD (REISSUE DATE UNKNOWN)
  5. Lennie Hibbert, ‘Village Soul’
    From Studio One Rockers v/a comp, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD48 (2001)
  6. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & Dub Syndicate, ‘Music’
    From Time Boom X De Devil Dead, UK EMI 724353002626 CD (2001)
  7. Lee Perry & The Upsetters, ‘Huzza A Hana’
    From Ape-Ology comp, UK TROJAN TJBDD361 2XCD (2007)
  8. Niney & The Reggae Crusadors, ‘Couchie Dub’
    Unknown, from the collection of DJ Loris
  9. The Ethiopian, ‘Muddy Water’ (1971)
    From Studio One Disco Mix v/a comp, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD103 (2004)
  10. Angela Prince, ‘No Bother With No Fuss’ (1966)
    From Studio One Women v/a comp, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD121 CD (2005)
  11. Jackie Mittoo and the Soul Brothers, ‘Voodoo Moon’ (1965-67)
    From Last Train to Skaville, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRCD80 CD (2003)
  12. King Tubby, ‘A Rougher Version’
    From Essential Dub, op cit.
  13. African Headcharge, ‘Down Under Again’
    From Off the Beaten Track, FRANCE ON-U-SOUND ONULP40 LP (1986)
  14. Dandy Livingstone, ‘Reggae In Your Jeggae’
    From Tighten Up Volumes One & Two v/a comp, UK TROJAN RECORDS CDTRL306 CD (REISSUE 1992)
  15. Champion Doug Veitch, ‘Not the Heart’
    From The Original comp, UK BONGO RECORDS CDVLP01 LP (1989)
  16. The Ethiopians, ‘Good Ambition’
    From Tighten Up Volumes Three & Four, UK TROJAN RECORDS CD (REISSUE 1992)
  17. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, ‘Jungle (Radio Plate)’
    From UK ON-U SOUNDS SY6 7″ single (2008)
  18. Dandy Livingstone, ‘Suzanne Beware of the Devil’
    From Tighten Up Volumes Five & Six v/a comp, UK TROJAN RECORDS CDTRL320 (REISSUE 1993)
  19. Honey Boy Martin, ‘Dreader than Dread’
    From The Trojan Story, op cit.
  20. Tommy McCork, ‘Revenge’
    From Yabby U, Jesus Dread: 1972-1977 comp, UK BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD021 (1997)
  21. The Fall, ‘Kimble’ (1992)
    From UK STRANGE FRUIT SFPS087 12″ single (1993)
  22. The Meditations, ‘No Peace’
    From Lee Scratch Perry: Arkology comp, UK ISLAND JAMAICA CRNCD6/524379-2 3XCD (1997)
  23. Burning Spear, ‘Foggy Road’
    From At Studio One, UK SOUL JAZZ RECORDS SJRLP101 (2004)
  24. Sugar Minott, ‘Love and Understanding’ (1980)
    From Studio One Disco Mix, op cit.
  25. Baba Brooks, ‘One-Eyed Giant’
    From The Trojan Story op cit.
  26. The Bleechers, ‘Check Him Out’
    From The Upsetter and Friends: The Upsetter Collection comp, UK TROJAN TRLS195 LP (UNKNOWN)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM

God has no Colour II (TSP radio show 19/08/05)

  1. Keith Hudson, ‘Pick a Dub’ (1974)
    From Pick A Dub, UK BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD 003 CD (1994)
  2. The Upsetters, ‘Zion’s Blood’ (1976)
    From Super Ape, USA MANGO (ISLAND RECORDS) 162-539 417-2 CD

  3. The Upsetter, ‘Proverbs of Dub’
    From Lee Perry, Voodooism, UK PRESSURE SOUNDS 009 LP (1996)
  4. Scientist, ‘ Upper Cut’
    From Heavyweight Dub Champion, UK GREENSLEEVES RECORDS GREL 13 LP (1980)
  5. Keith Hudson, ‘Black Heart’ (1974)
    From Pick A Dub, op cit.
  6. The Upsetters, ‘Black Vest’ (1976)
    From Super Ape, op cit.
  7. Zap Pow, ‘River’
    From Voodooism, op cit.
  8. Scientist, ‘Kidney Punch’
    From Heavyweight Dub Champion, op cit.
  9. Keith Hudson, ‘Don’t Move’ (1974)
    From Pick A Dub, op cit.
  10. The Upsetters, ‘Underground’ (1976)
    From Super Ape, op cit.
  11. The Hombres, ‘Africa’
    From Voodooism, op cit.
  12. The Upsetters, ‘Enter The Dragon (alternate take)’ (1975)
    From Born in the Sky. Upsetter at the Controls 1969-1975, UK MOTION RECORDS FASTLP006 2 x LP (2001)
  13. Augustus Pablo, ‘Rockers meet King Tubbys inna Fire House’ (1980)
    From Rockers meets King Tubbys in a Fire House, UNITED KINGDOM JET STAR CDRP 019 CD (1999)
  14. King Tubby / Roots Radics Band, ‘Loud Mouth Rock’ (1981)
    From Dangerous Dub, UK GREENSLEEVES REGGAE CLASSICS GREWCD229 CD (2001)
  15. Leo Graham, ‘Voodooism’
    From Voodooism, op cit.
  16. Prince Jazzbo, ‘Good Things’ (1974)
    From Born in the Sky, op cit.
  17. Augustus Pablo, ‘Zion is a Home’ (1980)
    From Rockers meets King Tubbys in a Fire House, op cit
  18. King Tubby / Roots Radics Band, ‘London Bridge Special’ (1981)
    From Dangerous Dub, op cit.
  19. Augustus Pablo, ‘Skateland Rock’ (1973)
    From This is Augustus Pablo, USA ABOVE ROCK RECORDS INC ARMLP 2001 LP (1997)
  20. Stranger and Gladdy, ‘Conqueror’ (1973)
    From Born in the Sky, op cit.
  21. Gary Clail’s Tackhead Sound System, ‘Hard Left’
    From Tackhead Tape Time, UK WORLD RECORDS TACKLP1 LP (1987)
  22. Keith LeBlanc, ‘Object-Subject’
    From Major Malfunction, UK WORLD RECORDS WR005 LP (1986)
  23. The Barmy Army, ‘Devo’
    From Various, Pay it All Back Volume Three, UK ON-U SOUND RECORDS ON-U LP53 2 x LP (1991)
  24. Scientist, ‘Cloning Process’
    From Scientist Meets the Space Invaders, UK GREENSLEEVES RECORDS GREL 19 LP (1981)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM

Dub music (TSP radio show 07/04/04)

Theme: ‘God Has No Colour’: (Dub and Reggae music… and its influences)

  1. King Tubby, ‘Wreck Up a Version’
    From Dub Gone Crazy, UNITED KINGDOM BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD 002 (1994)
  2. Leo Graham, ‘Three Blind Mice’
    From Chapter 2 of “Words”, UNITED KINGDOM TROJAN CDTRL 425 Z CD (1999)
  3. King Tubby, ‘Step it Up in Dub’
    From Dub Gone Crazy, op cit.
  4. I Roy, ‘Doctor Who’
    From Chapter 2 of “Words”, op cit.
  5. New Age Steppers, ‘Fade Away’
    From Massive Hits Vol 1, UNITED KINGDOM ON-U SOUNDS ON-U CD 16 (1994)
  6. I Roy and Lee Perry, ‘Space Flight’
    From Chapter 2 of “Words”, op cit.
  7. New Age Steppers, ‘High Ideals and Crazy Dreams’
    From Massive Hits Vol 1, op cit
  8. Yabby U, ‘Anti-Christ Rock’
    From King Tubby’s Prophesy of Dub, UNITED KINGDOM BLOOD AND FIRE BAFCD 005 (1995)
  9. Yabby U, ‘Conquering Lion’
    From Conquering Lion, JAMAICA PROPHET RECORD VINYL LP (ND)
  10. Yabby U, ‘Hungering Dub’
    From King Tubby’s Prophesy of Dub, op cit.
  11. Yabby U, ‘Run Come Rally’
    From Conquering Lion, op cit.
  12. King Tubby / Roots Radics, ‘Earthquake Shake’
    From Dangerous Dub, UNITED KINGDOM GREENSLEEVES REGGAE CLASSICS CD GREWCD229 (2001)
  13. Massive Attack, ‘Man Next Door’
    From Mezzanine, UNITED KINGDOM VIRGIN RECORDS WBR CD4 (1998)
  14. Augustus Pablo et al, ‘Africa Dub’
    From Africa Must Be Free by…1983 dub, JAMAICA MESSAGE RECORDS VINYL LP (1978)
  15. The Congoes, ‘Fisherman’
    From Heart of the Congoes, UNITED KINGDOM BLOOD AND FIRE BAFLP 009 (1996)
  16. Family Fodder, ‘Carnal Knowledge’
    B-side of Savoir Faire 45 single, UNITED KINGDOM FRESH RECORDS FRESH 22B (1980)
  17. The Slits, ‘Animal Space’
    UNITED KINGDOM HUMAN RECORDS HUM 4 7″ SINGLE (1980)
  18. Flux, ‘Children Who Know’
    From Uncarved Block, UNITED KINGDOM ONE LITTLE INDIAN RECORDS TPLP 1 (ND)
  19. Gedulah Vs Cheesecake, ‘El-qadim’
    From Macro Dub Infection Volume 2, UNITED KINGDOM VIRGIN RECORDS AMBT14 2 x CD (1996)
  20. Mark Stewart + Maffia, ‘The Paranoia of Power’
    From Learning to Cope with Cowardice, UNITED KINGDOM ON-U SOUNDS ON-U LP 24 (ND)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM