Friday, January 25, 2013

Best of the Rest of 12: Dub Inflected

Here's a few that draw on the world of dub, proving that reggae's influence continues unabated.

Frk Out
Other Music, my favorite record store in Manhattan, sends out terrific monthly updates with both passionate and knowledgeable reviews of new releases. I admit to sometimes skimming them due to time constraints. However, I wish I had seen their original mention of Icon Give Thank, which ended up on their best of 2012 list and might have been on mine had I heard it earlier. This beautifully bizarre record, volume nine in the FRKWYS series, is a collaboration between two west coast experimentalists, Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras, with reggae legends The Congos. It goes down like a dub dream with the still-heavenly voices of The Congos weaving in and out through the colorful soundscapes created by the two younger musicians. It's the best record of this kind since Ethiopian great Mulatu Astatke met The Heliocentrics back in 2008.
Black Ark Wisconsin
Wisconsin's own dub architects, Peaking Lights, released Lucifer in 2012 and it's their strongest record yet. Continuing their project to meld Black Ark era dub with atmospheric melodies reminiscent of Krautrock, Cocteau Twins and Perfume Tree musician-producer Aaron Coyes and singer Indra Dunis weave a hypnotic spell. The spell can be extended with, yes, Lucifer In Dub, which is enjoyably redundant. If you're on Spotify, take a trip through Coyes's brain by seeking out his playlist.

Make-Believe Master
Santigold is a frustrating artist. She's undeniably talented but from this side of the headphones at least, often seems to be trying too hard. However, if she keeps coming up with heady, perfect songs like Disparate Youth, there's a hell of a greatest hits collection in her future - and ours.

Dancehall Daze
Rub-A-Dub Style: The Roots of Modern Dancehall is an essential and fascinating book by Beth Lesser, who is practically an honorary Jamaican at this point. She's spent a lot of time down there and has spoken to nearly everyone alive who can talk about the rise of reggae and dancehall culture. For a reggae fan, it's pure joy. She takes fantastic pictures, too!

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