Posts Tagged ‘Dub’

ARP – “Voices”

Following on the success of his 2018 album ZEBRA ARP’s Alexis Georgopoulos put together a live ensemble to play Mexican Summer’s 10th Anniversary. The live setup netted a great response and Alexis and the band wound up in the studio working out an album with a five-person ensemble combing through material from the previous album and exploring new avenues in atmospherics and dub. The first track from the new Ensemble LP finds ARP diving through the kind of haunted ambiance that drew Georgopoulos to the sparse, yet affecting works of Finis Africae. It’s a slinking, saturated track, slicked with moss and seeping through the rocks. The new LP is out November 15th. It’s a new side to the ARP story and sounding pretty good at that.



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Sun Araw – “Orthrus”

It’s good to hear Cameron Stallones back in the sweaty arms of mutant dub. The latest Sun Araw opus landed in March and in a glut year of releases kinda snuck out quietly. The video for “Orthrus” thrusts some light back on the release with a spare treatment that features dance sensation Mr. Shapes riding the groove. The song is a standout on the album, marrying a chugging dub shuffle to future funk keys and mournful slides along the strings. As abstract as Sun Araw has been in the past few years, this just hits right in the heart of what always endeared the band to me in the first place. It’s psych, drenched in balmy beat and dug out of the tape hiss trenches that sprung the band all those years ago. If you missed out, check in now.


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Dead Sea Apes

Manchester’s Dead Sea apes ignite their latest album with the spirit of dub crossed post-punk, a move that finds them winding down darkened alleys fraught with trembling tension. For the most part they’ve left the droned desert of last year’s Soy Dios behind them, doubling down on their experimental vision of instrumental psych with supple ease. The record takes on a cinematic quality, though thankfully eschewing the current trend of Goblin-esque horror tropes for a more Morricone-meets-Metal-Box vision of stark paranoia. The record can scarcely be parsed into individual tracks, one flowing seamlessly into another and played out in a storyboarded splay, pulsing with anxiety flung into dub plate dizziness.

The band’s always had a high level of musicianship, but in the past they’ve focused their efforts into guitar based visions of psychedelia. Here they put bass front and center crushing the listener with the insistent creep of leaded boots and the feeling of your heart pounding in your ears. When it does rear it’s head though, the guitar bites down with jagged glass teeth as it weaves through the mix metallic and snaking, looking for prey with every movement. It seems that each band is absorbing our current political climate with it’s own bent and Dead Sea Apes have chosen to embody and amplify the dystopian concrete sprawl for all it’s worth.




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Sea Urchin

Berlin-based Sea Urchin give a new spin on dub, immersing themselves in an envelope of echo and throb and affixing it to the breathy vocals of Leila Hassan. The album has a dissociative quality to it, floating and drifting on in a puddle of salt water, performing sensory deprivation experiments that bring to mind something out of Altered States. The music feels disorienting, and if the listener closes their eyes, its hard to trust the imagery that floats into view as concrete – distorted figures, memories from 8-bit landscapes and past lives never touched all float into view. The music isn’t particularly hi-fi, but lo-fi seems like a slap in the face. The bass is muted but full, rattling the skull. Hassan’s vocals float in such a crisp headspace that they seem like omniscient instructions, rendered in language that’s on the tip of the tongue, and forever unobtainable.

The rhythms are rudimentary, built from rhythm boxes that seem out of date but still alive with a magic that’s sparking in their husks. The whole of Yaqaza is like a strange week in the Ayahuasca circle, facing down the ghosts of the forest and emerging changed. Perhaps its not truly as immersive as all this sounds but, as a true headphone record, the album does seem to pull one out of mind with little effort. The band’s attributed its creation to that of a dreamlike state and, in turn, it does seem to find itself evoking imagery that could only be associated with dreams, hallucinations or mental meltdown. The band succeed in finding a way to lock in the psychoactive aural adventure and run wild with it. Where dub has always had it way in the countercultral community, here the band elevates dub beyond its roots and into a new plateau of experimentation.

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Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall Upwards

Finding a hole to pin the sound of Tomorrow The Rain Will Fall Upwards is almost as difficult as trying to track down information on its creator. The purposely elusive project on Blackest Ever Black came to light with a similarly stunning but hard to categorize EP from 2014. Now with a full album’s length to play with they (he/she/?) take the dub inclinations from the EP and work a smear all over the map of experimental electronic, dub housed soul, Tropicalia, synth, and noise. Each song shifts gears entirely from the one before, held together most tellingly by an atmosphere of bass, echo, and foreboding yet billowy synth. The tone is overtly political; couched within those dub valleys and darkened corners are references to women fighting oppression through history, The Spanish Civil War, the UK miners’ strike and the final track plays out with a portion of the Socialist anthem The Internationale.

That inclusion speaks well to the shadowy nature of T.T.R.W.F.U., as the original writer of music for the anthem also concealed himself to save his job from scrutiny. Wreck His Days comes as a bold statement in a time of shifting political realities, both in the band’s native UK, with the fallout from Brexit and an uncertain future of unification, and here in The States with our own twinge of political upheaval and two very divergent but outspoken populist takes on candidacy. Something like this feels like it nails the anxiety, the hope, the fear and the uncertainty of politics in 2016 (or more precisely the 2015 ramp up to it that surrounded the album’s making). The album ends on a hopeful note of Socialism, The Internationale has a theme that can’t help but resonate through leftist politics of any country, but T.T.R.W.F.U. raises more questions than answers. The album alludes to a new shift in the winds, but only hints that the people will see it through. Though I suppose if you’re looking to music to provide all the answers then you’re maybe expecting a bit too much. Its a grand statement that sharpens focus the further you back away from it.



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