JOVM pays tribute to The Mighty Upsetter, Lee “Scratch” Perry.
Yesterday was the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry’s 85th birthday. And what better way to show love and respect to the beloved creator of dub than with some live footage of the man doing his thing –= with the energy and verve of someone half of his age.
Happy birthday, Mr. Perry! May there be many more.
Featuring an accomplished array of players including former and current members of Antibalas, The Easy Star All-Stars, The Skatalies, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaries, The Far East and others, the New York-based collective Combo Lulo initially was conceived a studio project that convened to record a handful of cuts for New York-based label Names You Can Trust (NYCT), including their debut single, released in May 2018. That single, which featured a hybrid of cumbia and reggae helped to quickly establish their sound — a sound that effortlessly draws from and bounces around the Caribbean, finding common threads between cumbia, rocksteady and dub.
Their debut single sold out in a few months, through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Adding to the growing buzz surrounding the collective, the B-Side single “Canto Del Sol” was featured on NPR’s Marketplace in 2019. 2019 also saw the release of their second single, “The Sieve & The Sand,” which found the members of Combo Lulo incorporating elements of Ethiojazz and Afrobeat while maintaining a spacey, Roots Radics sort of groove.
The collective then teamed up with Panamanian soul singer Ralph Weeks for rocksteady ballad-like re-work of his 1969 slow jam “Algo Muy Profundo/Something Deep Inside” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original’s release. Much like their debut single, their collaboration with Ralph Weeks quickly sold out — while becoming a stable of DJ sets in clubs across Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles.
Building upon their rapidly growing profile, Combo Lulo will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut Neotropic Dream on May 8, 2021. The forthcoming album’s latest single “Culebra Mentirosa” features a collaboration with Alba and The Mighty Lions’ Alba Ponce De Leon is a slick and soulful synthesis of dub, dancehall and cumbia centered around infectious and shuffling riddims.
“‘Culebra Menitrosa’ came about because we’re huge fans of Alba Ponce De Leon and her group, the Mighty Lions (also on NYCT),” Combo Lulo bandleader Michael Sarason says in press notes.”She’s got such a classy and nuanced sound as a singer, I thought it would work really well with our music. We invited her to come to the studio and after listening through some tracks, we spoke about the idea of writing a song in the form of a parable and using the animal kingdom as a device to tell that story. The concept came together quickly and Alba developed her lyrics and melodies on the spot. When we were mixing it, we tried to imagine what it might sound like if the classic Colombian Cumbia singer Leonor Gonzalez Mina had flown to Jamaican to have King Tubby mix her album. As I listen back now, I can hear all of that in the final version.
Formed almost 20 years ago, the Brooklyn-based act Dub Trio — Grammy Award nominated-Stu Brooks (bass), DP Holmes (guitar) and Joe Tomino (drums) — have firmly established a critically applauded boundary pushing approach to dub that incorporates metal, punk rock, alt rock and shoegaze through the release of four albums, 2004’s full-length debut Exploring the Dangers Of, 2006’s New Heavy, 2008’s Another Sound Is Dying and 2011’s IV.
During that same exact period, the members of Dub Trio have been rather busy: they’ve done studio work with Mike Patton and Lady Gaga; they’ve toured alongside the likes of Clutch, Gogol Bordello, and The Dillinger Escape Plan — and they’ve toured as the backing band for Peeping Tom. After extensive touring to support IV, the Brooklyn-based trio went on hiatus.
Reconvening for a two week reunion at a tiny Brooklyn rehearsal room in 2018, the trio began working on the material for their fifth album, The Shape of Dub To Come. Featuring collaborations with Melvins‘ King Buzzo, Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders, Meshell Ndgeocello and an impressive array of others, The Shape of Dub To Come finds the act actively pushing dub into as many new sonic territories as possible — while serving as their first release through New Damage Records.
“Them Thing Deh,” The Shape of Dub To Come‘s latest single finds Dub Trio collaborating with Skindred’s Benji Webbe on a strutting single featuring sinuous and propulsive bass line, twinkling keys paired with Webbe’s soulful vocals, shuffling reggae riddims and reverb-drenched effects. And while seemingly centered around the prerequisite irie vibes,
“Them Thing Deh” is fueled by the sociopolitical concerns of our current moment.
“We’re putting this song out for the love of it. We knew we wanted to do a track that paid homage to our fore-fathers of reggae and dub, rhythm section greatness, Sly & Robbie,” Dub Trio’s Stu Brooks says in press notes. “They have been an endless source of inspiration to us as a band from the beginning. So, as helicopters swarmed over Hollywood during BLM protests, my wife and I felt compelled to finally break quarantine. As we approached Hollywood and Vine to join in solidarity with the protesters, ‘Them Thing Deh’ happened to be the soundtrack in my headphones. Feeling the anger we share with the BLM movement, the lyric ‘got to keep your cool; really spoke to me as I could feel the tension in the air. That week, we quickly put the rhythm tracks together, recording from 3 different states, with the help of Roger Rivas on organ and keys and hit up our old friend, legend Benji Webbe from the UK band, Skindred. Benji is the ultimate genre-masher, soulfully clashing metal, reggae, punk, dub, dancehall…all the sh*t we love!”
Paris-based quintet Knights of Mandala (KOM) is a dub music project that meshes modern jazz, French electro-dub, urban style with geek culture — particularly, comic books, manga, video games and sci-fi as a way of inspiring imagination and the possibilities of new worlds. And whether they play as a live band with instruments or with synthesizers and other electronics with their live machine set up, Knights of Mandala’s primary mission is to make listeners dance and travel through the power of their imagination.
Since their formation three years ago, the Parisian dub act have released three EPs. And like countless acts across the globe, they haven’t been able to play live shows — but 2020 has seen them writing and recording new material, including their latest single, the hypnotic and thumping “Wooden Prison.” Centered around shimmering and trance-inducing sitar playing by Khoe-Wa, skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and reverb-drenched keys and effects, “Wooden Prison” effortlessly bridges East and West while pointedly calling out the modern condition: humanity is imprisoned in a world of rigid, soul-crushing routine that we must all resist and escape.
Directed by Thomas Restout, the recently released video starts parkour athlete Léo Urban doing his thing in the woods and in an urban environment — but throughout, there’s a sense that Urban is actively bringing himself and his soul back to nature.
“Wooden Prison” will appear on Knights of Mandala’s Urban Cycle mixtape, which will be released through Weta Records at the end of the year.
Led by Jon Panic, the Sydney, Australia-based roots reggae and dub act Black Bird Hum have spent the past four years touring across the continent, becoming a rising name in the Aussie reggae and festival scene. And although “My Side” is their first single released through Denver-based funk and soul label Color Red, the Aussie band’s connection to the label runs very deep: Jeff Reis (drums) had spent 15 years playing in Denver‘s scene, performing with labelmates ATOMGA during that band’s formative years before relocating to Sydney.
Centered around fluttering flute, a sinuous and two-step inducing groove, twinkling keys and laid-back riddims, Little Green’s sultry vocals and an infectious horn line composed by Greg Chilcott (trumpet), “My Side” is the band’s homage to some of their favorite artists — Roots Radics, Gregory Isaacs, and Hollie Cook but with a modern take. Developed and honed over months of touring. “My Side” is a road tested song that feels both modern and timeless as it tells an age-old tale of good love gone horribly and confusingly wrong. Most of us have been there and have reflected on what was, what could have been and what happened with a vivid preciseness. The B side is a classic and very trippy dub mix that further emphasizes that deep and sinuous two-step groove with reverb-drenched everything. Listening to the dub mix is an enveloping trip into groove, if you dig what I’m saying?
“The groove got it all started, the horn line kept it going, and then Little Green (Amy) singing over the top was all we needed to know it was our next release.,” Black Bird Hum’s Jon Panic says of their latest single. “All our songs are fun live, but this pocket is probably the best to drop into. It’s a nod to all of our favorite reggae artists and the mad grooves they’ve given us.”
Color Red · Death by Dub – Kibosh | Color Red Music
Led by founding members and creative masterminds Dan Africano and Scott Flynn, the Denver-based act Death by Dub is a deeply collaborative effort between its founders and a collection of the Mile High City’s finest players, in which everyone equally contributes their input and talents — typically during the studio sessions, with the studio being an integral part of the project.
The Denver-based act’s latest single “Kibosh” derives its name from the death hood, a condemned prison would hear leading up to their beheading. Centered around a mournful and lyrical horn melody, shimmering Rhodes, stuttering riddims and reverb and delay-drenched dub effects, the track evokes the slow walk a condemned prisoner would take to the gallows, before ending with a slow fade out. The single will appear on the band’s forthcoming EP Resurrection, which is slated for an September 18, 2020 release through Color Red.
Comprised of DJ and production team Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, the internationally renowned Washington, DC-based act Thievery Corporation have developed a reputation for a globe spanning, genre-defying sound that features elements of electronica, dub, bossa nova, acid jazz, reggae, Indian classical music, hip-hop, Middle Eastern music and others, and for collaborating with a diverse array of artists across a variety of genres and styles, including Rob Myers, Loulou Ghelichkhani, Natalia Clavier, Frank ‘Booty Lock’ Mitchell, Mr. Lif, Jeff Franca, Ashish Vyas and a lengthy list of others, who have contributed lyrics in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian and Hindi.
Now, as you may recall, the duo’s chart topping 2017 effort, The Temple of I & I was deeply influenced by Jamaica’s sounds and rhythms, and as a result the album may have arguably been their most reggae and dub-influenced album to date — and perhaps, their most straightforward as well. Interestingly, the duo’s latest album, Treasures from the Temple is a companion album to their 2017 album, and it features both original material and remixes from the Temple of I & I recording sessions at Geejam Studios in Port Antonio, Jamaica — with guest spots from LouLou Ghelichkhani, Mr. Lif, Sitali, Racquel Jones, Natalia Clavier and Notch.
Treasures from the Temple’s latest single “Waiting Too Long” features their long-time collaborator and American dancehall pioneer Notch, and the track is a soulful, two-step dub riddim, complete with a strutting horn arrangement, and while it sounds and feels warm and familiar, it’s a sweet love song about lovers, who have been through quite a bit, going to the club to dance, to enjoy themselves and forget about the world for a few hours — and how they’re specifically waiting for the DJ to play their song.
The recently released video for “Waiting Too Long” consists of rare footage shot in Jamaica in the late 70s and early 80s, and it captures a night out in a Jamaican club — singles and couples swaying and dancing, some with beer bottles in hand; a DJ making adjustments on his mixer as a vocalist passionately sings; in another room, men gamble and bullshit. It’s a Friday or Saturday night with people being — well, people. All seeking a small measure of joy, a connection with someone else, an escape from the drudgery of every day life.