Reviews

Rototom Sunsplash 2014, Benicassim, Spain, 16 – 23 August

Rototom Sound SystemWriting a review on a festival such as Rototom Sunsplash is a daunting challenge. This festival is in its 21th edition, and to give such an experience a fair representation is a hard feat.

Nevertheless I was conscious of this throughout the 8-days and balanced my time writing reviews, conducting interviews, and linking up with artists, activists, charity organisations, promoters, and other reggae enthusiasts (nerds….). And of course the rest of my time was taken trying to absorb all the music. (more…)

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Dubbing Sun & Digid meets Clinton Sly – Champion Sound

Dubbing Sun & DigidDubbing Sun, in collaboration with Digid, focus on the heavy vibes with their eponymous record label’s second 7″. The Austrian/Belgian collaboration brings a tight sense of production, from the prerequisite deep bass to the vintage horns to the smoothly layered dub effects. (more…)

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Dub Gabriel – Kulture / Freedom Fighter

Featuring Brooklyn Jungle Soundsystem, Ranking Joe, RSD, Dubmatix

(Destroy All Concepts 7″s)
Dub Gabriel - Kulture / Freedom Fighter

Dub Gabriel’s Destroy All Concepts label returns with a pair of 7″ releases, both featuring legendary reggae figures on the a-side and talented remixers on the reverse. While the digital previews have been floating around the clouds of sound for some months now, the limited edition wax editions will be shipping out shortly. (more…)

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Israel Starr meets Dub Terminator ft. Gappy Ranks – No Response Fi Dat EP

No Response Fi DatRevisiting a tune from earlier this year, Dub Terminator takes his collaboration with Israel Starr and adds UK dancehall MC Gappy Ranks to the mix on this update to “No Response Fi Dat.”

On the opening re-edit, the driving force is the deep dub-hop bass-line – with appropriate echoes and subtle synths sneaking through – as this pair of verbal assassins ‘large up like sumo, load up the ammo’ in order to best address their inferior competitors. Israel Starr handles the chorus and outer verses, while Gappy Ranks makes the most of his brief appearance, boasting in baritone: ‘we no care who dem are, dem couldn’t go bar fi bar.’ (more…)

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Daddy Gadman – No Human / Mic Shy

Daddy Gadman - No HumanRongorock 7″

Daddy Gadman’s “No Human” 7-inch is all about balancing catchy with serious. On the A-side of this Wrongtom production, the veteran UK MC speaks on some truth, with the chorus “no human should eat out of a garbage can”, cutting straight to the heart.

Examining poverty and wealth inequality from a personal and humanist perspective, Daddy Gadman makes the most of the subtle digital echoes of the Suzy riddim. (more…)

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Jah Red Lion – LionHeart EP

LionHeart EPA Chilean transplant to New Zealand, Jah Red Lion – flexing irie mic skills in both English and Spanish – makes a timely musical statement on his EP Lion Heart, with bass-heavy productions (and a pair of quality dubs) coming from fellow Kiwis Dub Terminator, High Stakes, and Reality Chant.

Claiming most of the productions, Dub Terminator handles the first few tracks, beginning with the booming hip hop-influenced “Never Leave Me Alone.” Featuring a catchy English chorus and fast-paced verses en Español, Jah Red Lion is clearly confident telling his story in his languages. (more…)

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DJ Vadim – Dubcatcher

Vadim - DubcatcherBBE Records

Born in Russia and raised in London, DJ Vadim rose to fame in the mid-90s with his smooth debut ‘Headz Ain’t Ready’ on his own ‘Jazz Fudge’ label. Straight out of the MPC era of hip-hop production, ‘Headz’ had a break-beat/ hip-hop feel which remains as the cornerstone of Vadim’s sound, but his later releases began to feature a fusion of dub, synth, and ethnic influences. His album, ‘USSR: Life From The Other Side’, established him in the American and European market, and his work as DJ for the hip-hop group ‘One Self’ continued to expose him to a wider audience. (more…)

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Hi Smile Hifi 7″s – feat. S’Kaya & Speng Bond

Hi Smile HifiThe 7″ debut x2 from Top Smile Records, run by High Smile Hifi, is all about pairing strictly-digital riddims with engaging vocal turns. The clean production is consistent with prior tracks and dubplates from the Swiss trio, whose past collaborations include tunes with Daddy Freddy, General Levy, Ranking Joe, and – for their first (digital-only) release “Another Drive-By Shooting” – Sammy Gold. (more…)

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