by: Jarret Lovell
Dubtonic Kru - Dub Conscious - (White Stone Productions)
There are different styles of dub. Some dubs are simply the instrumental 'versions' of reggae tracks with the vocals either completely stripped, or with minimal vocals fading in and out at strategic times. Other dubs are best thought of as remixes, or reworkings, of classic reggae songs. Producer Scientist made a name for himself by reworking classic reggae songs into new cuts that often surpassed the original. Then there are the dubs that never started as anything other than dub - instrumental cuts that build around a simple yet hypnotic bass line. Some artists have perfected this genre - Dub Syndicate and Alpha and Omega immediately come to mind. And while they have experimented with vocals over the years, the essence of their music is drum and bass, with much electronics and effects thrown into the mix. The Dubtonic Kru are similar to the latter two artists. The songs are, and have as their origin, dubs. And they experiment with vocals on some tracks. From Jamaica, the Kru have toured and/or recorded with Max Romeo, U-Roy, Burning Spear, The Mighty Diamonds as well as Bushman, Junior Kelly, and Richie Spice. Here, they offer up some 11 dubs; some instrumental, some will vocals. All good. Play if you like dub, reggae, or electronic music.
Chuck Foster - Righteous Dub – (Catch Me Time Records)
The name Chuck Foster should be familiar to Southern California reggae fans. For years, he's hosted Reggae Central on Pacifica Radio Station KPFK, consistently serving as the genre's ambassador before the Internet brought reggae from smaller stations (i.e., KUCI) to a wider SoCal audience. Foster is also a reggae scholar, having authored a book on reggae music. And he has a few albums under his name. Without much knowledge about them, my hunch is that he serves as producer/project organizer, rather than performer. But I could be wrong. Here's what I found from the Internet about his newest release: "Heavy roots dubs in the Jamaican tradition recorded at Rough Sounds Redondo Beach with a stellar line-up of players. Bass and drum predominate this release with horns, guitars, keyboards and snatches of vocal swathed in echo and reverb." Unlike the Dubtonic Kru (above), these dubs are more rootsy, which means that they have an organic, rather than electronic feel. Enjoy.
Jah Cure - The Cure - (VP Records)
One of contemporary Jamaica's biggest stars, Jah Cure's career was seemingly interrupted at the height of his popularity when he was accused of a crime on the account of one witness who couldn't even identify him. Convicted without a jury trial, Jah Cure continued to grow in popularity - now as a musician and wrongfully-convicted man. Somehow, he managed to record and release several records while in prison, producing many #1 singles. Released in 2007, he has continued to record and to maintain his popularity. His latest release is 13 tracks. No bragging or boasting here. Just good, solid contemporary reggae. Track #2 "Corruption" has a great bass line coupled with horns that reverb. Track #3 "Life We Live" has nice soulful vocals and great keyboards that echo and reverb from speaker to speaker. Track #10 "That Girl" is a nice, beautiful, yet upbeat track. This is a solid release from an artist I - admittedly - avoided due to the allegations of his wrongdoing. But the music speaks for itself. Play.