Music Reviews

Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Babylon is Ours - the USA in Dub
Format: CD
Label: Select Cuts (division of Echo Beach) (@)
Distributor: Caroline
Get ready for some groovy and chillin' dub action with shades of green, yellow and red, if you know what I mean. This "all-exclusive collection of American dub flavors" bears the colors of a winner and comes to you directly from the streets of the most involved cities of the nation (including New York City, pictured in the cover in a quasi "Independence Day" scenario with a huge speaker hovering over the island and drawing a huge shadow over part of it, as well as in the booklet and in-lay card with Lady Liberty). Released by German Echo Beach's new sub label Select Cuts and compiled by XLR8R magazine journalist Ron Nachmann and by San Francisco's "Dub Mission" club night masterminds Dj Seb and Sep Ghadishah, "Babylon is Ours - the USA in Dub" is available on CD and 12" and collects some of the finest dub music with an American signature.
Organic Grooves founders Dj Sasha Crnobrnja (aka Cosmic Rocker, from Switzerland) and guitarist Zeb (from Italy) open the celebration with heavily electronic-enriched low-sub-bass-driven dub (the kind of dub I like the most!); Phase Selector definitely hoist the Jamy flag; Santa Cruz Dub Congress keep it up there with their spacey roots dancehall; Avatars of Dub initially go for the trumpets but really only get interesting when they later add the drum'n'bass ingredient to their recipe; Cuban turntablist virtuoso Tino (aka Tino Corp, featuring Jack Dangers and Ben Stokes) has a big bass line and adds long delayed samples of every kind; Mark Pistel (also founding member of the great political band Consolidated - definitely check them out! - and Meat Beat Manifesto collaborator) mostly comes from the electronic scene but definitely proves here (if his two records "Electronic Dub Collective" weren't proof enough) that he's got what it takes to be successful with dub too; right from here in NYC comes Zeb (whom I met and worked with in the past...), a great eclectic experimental guitarist like few others in the scene (with backgrounds including the UK Brixton's scene and collaborations with Future Sound of London and The Scientist among others), who samples his own guitar playing to play live on top of it and presents a great track; Eastern Dub Tactik (one of the few good things to come out from curch ;-)) works out a theme reminiscent of an Eurhythmics hit and introduces great Asian tabla playing into his spiritual mix giving it that wider geographical reach (even though you won't hear much of the "world hip-hop" he was envisioning earlier in the days); the Ben Wa Oakland duo go more minimal than the others and add some UK-ish ambient-like textures that our readers will sure appreciate; Sub Oslo (I don't know if they are from Oslo) are a full blown performance group who go even deeper with their sub-bass' frequencies (hence the name I guess) and keep their guitar player busy ad-libing; Otaku (I do know they are not the ones from Italy - but they probably choose the same name for the same political reasons: i.e. Japan's hacker/cultural jammers movement) go for a trip/hip-hop-like beat with very interesting elements usually extraneous to the dub/reggae scene, such as distortion, arpeggiators, very short delays and cut-off frequency sweeping; the other all-live act of this record who also ends the party is Systemwide, who jam with Brooklynite Dr. Israel and Oaklander Dj Collage in what seems to be the only piece with actual vocal parts on this compilation while carrying on their «genre dissolving» modern tradition/traditional modern style. Nice booklet with extensive notes. Great buy for those into the dub scene, but you'll have to wait until the end of April when the album will be in stores!

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