Dubmatix’s The French Sessions actually provided much of the soundtrack on my road trip through France last summer, centered around attending the Reggae Sun Ska Festival in Bordeaux. So with a sentimental attachment to the originals, hopes were high that these remixes could maintain the magic of the originals. Fortunately the Canadian producer – who teamed up with a talented younger generation of current singers for the initial release – was equally prudent in choosing a wide range of artists for this project. France is still the focus here, aside from American act Tour De Force who still fit in both stylistically and nominally.
For opener “African Brother,” Ackboo takes the original’s groove and injects a more uptempo techno-infused spirit. S’Kaya’s empowering vocal, ruminating on a return to Africa, is given a wild dub echo treatment at the end but arguably more importantly is allowed to still carry the track. Following that dub stomper, Tour De Force blend genres on their “Dub du Ragga” take, fuelled equally by firm low-end theory, an air of video game nostalgia, and some heavy electro sounds. All well-suited to Jah Jah Man’s passionate delivery.
Next, powerhouse label boss ODG crafts a foreboding opening to “Africans” before a rolling bassline entrances the dance. Joe Pilgrim’s vocal is then surrounded by a dreamy technoscape before the synths step in. Both tough and optimistic, aligning nicely with the conscious lyrics, which touch on finances and the need for revolution, before concluding ‘Africans get up and unite!’
Guive and Taiwan MC’s collaboration, “Dangerous,” is handed over to Dubamix, who has produced an evolving digital riddim complete with a skanking melodica that creates some cool interplay with the two singers. Early verses just hint, until the second half of the track dives into some nicely chopped punchy drum and bass.
UZUL however takes bass into far deeper and darker territory, transforming LMK’s “So Bad” into a vibrant 160bpm future bass workout. Drums clatter with a clear footwork influence, while the vocals stay buried in the mix except for the catchy chorus. This intriguing exercise in loop chopping finally leads into a nicely contrasting extended outro. No stranger to high-tempo drums himself, Krak In Dub lets the good time roll indeed on his remix of a Jr Yellam feature – praising the most herbal – while crafting a slightly left-field mixture of dnb plus synths complete with some strong buildups.
Mayd Hubb’s work on Joe Pilgrim’s “Africans” is slow and deep, a low-bit tinged dub stagger, perhaps thick in the clouds from the previous track? Certainly dubby in style, this heavy remix explores the rhythmic vibes while only letting the vocals step out through the haze occasionally. For the second visit to “So Bad,” Miss Ficel lets a breakbeat control the pace, while dark horns blast through from the background; LMK’s vocals here are triumphant as they address the complexities of love.
French Sessions (The Remixes) is a delightful journey, revisiting some nice tracks yet exploring fresh approaches for the Dubmatix dance floor. A free download direct from Soundcloud, this 8-track is another strong release from one of Canada’s leading reggae producers and multi-instrumentalists.
The Groove Thief
.the future of dub is the present.
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