Across the Valley

[Universal Egg,]


[Echo Beach,]

Heaps Dub


Heart of Dub


Why do I long for the warm, sticky, humid, boiling, scorching hot days of summer?Other than the cold home-made brew, smell of fresh-cut grass and the smell of a nice juicy t-bone steak on the BBQ, I finally get the opportunity to blast my dub records and annoy the hell out of my neighbours. Nothing goes better with summer than a nice dub groove.
Love Grocer is a collaborative effort which revolves around trombonist, keyboardists and bassist Chris Petter and trumpeter and guitarist David Fullwood. Their third record "Across the Valley" features a solid 74 minute of dub, ragga muffin, ska and reggae - exactly what the doctor ordered. Mostly instrumental, the album focuses not so much on the heavy side of the dub but on a wonderfully orchestrated brass section. A ton of trumpets, tenor saxophones and trombones are featured on every single track. While "In Due Season" is a slower, mid-tempo number that reverberates with the sort of dub goodness Linton Kwesi Johnson would be proud of, "Surviving" tends to spread the dub message using some rough'n'ready vocals. A ton of guest musicians make it onto the record, such as saxophonists Jon Petter and Richard Doswell, along with Jonno [aka The Dubdadda], who does some killer vocalizing on "Cloudy Day". While the band changes gears quite often - moving between slower jams and those that just plainly rock out - the rhythms are steady and even heavy on occasion. Can't get excited enough about the record, so I'll just put this briefly, buy this little treasure now. Debut full-length from Swiss dub trio by the name of Dub Spencer & Trance Hill is the work of three musicians - Adrian Pflugshaupt, Marcel Stalder and Christian Niederer. Full of space echoes and deep, thick reverb slabs, this is music to really get down and dirty with. Rumbling bass is accompanied by solid percussive overload and some nice bass clarinet solos from Pflugshaupt. Totally instrumental numbers mean the listener just trips right out without any vocal interruptions to get in the way. In fact, the album as a complete whole flows nicely, as the arrangements are thematically a perfect fit. To be fair, not a weak track in the bunch to be found here.
From the slow jamming of "Hallelujah" to the harmonica laden power dub of "Dubtember", the album goes from strength to strength. "Nitro" is that perfect bag of scorching hot listening for a humid summer day.
Root 70 is in reality a project of German trombonist Nils Wogram. Second time around, his quartet is exploring the works of Burnt Friedman & The Nu Dub Players and Flanger. Interesting program, considering the amount of ink that has been spilled on Burnt in the recent months. I assume Nils Wogram formed the Root 70 quartet in order to explore a different aspect of jazz; to show jazz could actually open itself up to new and different ideas. Obviously, the idea of playing dub in an acoustic fashion is something that intrigues this band. This is evident whatever track you choose. From the light dub-flavours of "Escape the Night", to heavier dub machinations of "It Ain't Rocket Science" - dub sits at the very core of the band. Funny thing is, though Root 70 is a real live band, what they've attempted within the realms of this CD is to reconstruct original pieces that Burnt Friedman has already deconstructed on original records in the first place. It's almost like a loop. First, there was Friedman piecing together works that would sound as real and as close to being live as possible. Now, we get Root 70, who are damn good at reconstructing the pieces that Friedman already messed around with. Oddly enough, as in consecutive parts of Bob Ostertag's Say No More project, this time around, it works. From the rambunctious trombone blasts from Wogram, through to Hayden Chisholm's gorgeously effective clarinet work, it all sounds so very authentic. Especially effective is the fat groove, pounding rhythm section made up of drummer Jochen Rueckert and bassist Matt Penman. If I was to pick one drawback of the record is Wogram at times tends to get somewhat romantic - as he is on "Nightbeat" - when his trombone sounds as if it were slowly dying. Otherwise, "Heaps Dub" turns out to be a successful release - one that is infused with sufficient energy and fervour.
In case you missed it, Nucleus Roots have been making great dub for the last decade. Their fifth album "Heart of Dub" is another fine example of what dub is at its best. Unfiltered, stripped down beats and vocals that reverberate with a positive Jah message is what the most hardcore dubmeisters will tell you constitutes the cream of the crop of this genre. Make no mistake, there is still fun and solid beats to be had here, it's just that the seriousness of the peace, love and Jah message are put up high on the pedestal. Moses and Country Culture trade off on vocal duties and each one has a style that is unique and hard-hitting. Production is clean, though the roots sound and beats remain rough. The thick pounding beat is evident everywhere and that's the way it should be. Apparently live, Nucleus Roots have a huge stage presence, mixing equal amounts of digital elements and solid electric elements to make for a great show. "Heart of Dub" gets to the heart of the matter fast, which is why this is perfect summer music all around.

-Tom Sekowski

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+ JAMIE LIDELL - Multiply Additions
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>> LOVE GROCER - Across the Valley / DUB SPENCER & TRANCE HILL - Nitro / ROOT 70 - Heaps Dub / NUCLEUS ROOTS - Heart of Dub
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