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Digital Dubs | #1

Album review by John Powell

Digital Dubs | #1

Although Digitaldubs was released by ROIR in 2011, it might as well have come out from the 70’s era of the birth of deep, deep dub grooves. Nelson Meirelles is the brainchild behind this wide mix of dub, produced by MPC so well that your speakers will probably emit smoke. In 2005, Rio de Janeiro’s underground dub scene was growing, and Nelson was on the cusp of invention, spinning jams in clubs. There’s very little Brazilian influence here, however, except for a few Portuguese vocal performances. All in all, though, the album is a dub-lover’s ultimate unknown love.

“Transe Amazonico (Abrindo os Caminhos)” starts everything off. Synthified drums set the tone with a Nyabinigi groove. Hollow keys keep the off-beat rhythm, and melodica dusts the melody with slinky sex. It’s a super lazy dub salute to “Let’s Get it On”.

“Fyah Bun Dem” features Ranking Joe, a wiry MC with tongue roles and classic dub mic handling. His vocals, panned in both speakers, overdubbed, and ricocheting, interlaced with bass low enough to cause an earthquake, bakes a delicious dub cake.

Did I just say that? Likely. This album doesn’t fit conventional comparisons but it does unearth need for unconventional description, being so tastey. “Bandido de Gravata” sounds a bit like Le Peuple de le Herbe’s more reggae’d out electronica jams. The vocals by Dada Yute aren’t in English, but I still find myself singing along to the catchy melody.

A key track is “Kaliman Dreams”, full of organic horns, xylophone, and bumping bass. The breakdowns and piano effects turn a simple rock steady dub into a complex club-ready punch. “Upbeat Vibes” is a similar example of how to utilize horns. Here, however, the guitar gets to play around with feedback and the drums- too synthy for my taste- are the only thing to bring the song down.

It’s “Dub Echoes Theme”, however, that steals the show. The slow drum n’ bass are meant for a big car with tinted windows. Sleek and roving, the song adds in ska-i-fied horns and spends three minutes testing the subwoofer’s resilience.

The album closes out first with “Sigue Tu Instinto”, one of the Portuguese songs, sung by Tiano Bless. With a more contemporary take on MC-ing, reminiscent of groups like Midnight, the song’s rounded bass, rumbling and gritty, is its selling point.

Finishing strong, “Justice and Equality” also with Ranking Joe, bubbles with groove. “You can’t take your might,” Ranking Joe spits. While none of the lyrics on the album break new ground- this is dub music. It’s about the sound. No poets here, but sound junkies welcome.

Bottom line: A must have for dub enthusiasts.


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