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Dub Is A Weapon | Vaporized

Album review by John Powell

Dub Is A Weapon | Vaporized

Creating an entirely instrumental album of dub originals would be a decent challenge for any band, but Dub is a Weapon take it a step further; recording most of Vaporized live in the studio. While “dub” is a term placed on remixed reggae post-production, Dub is a Weapon set out to do it live, just like at their concerts. The best part: Vaporized is such a danceable, party-oriented album that even non-reggae fans will take notice.

“Turbulence” is a nice welcome to the album, with a funky upbeat bass line, the sort of horns James Bond would put on his soundtrack, delayed keys, bouncing drums, and an intense guitar tying it all together. Larry McDonald tosses in the right amount of percussion, high-end twitters and low-end rattlesnaking. Bandleader and guitarist Dave Hahn lays on a little jamming while the rest of the band falls back into a sleek groove.

Like the opener, “Turmoil” develops a haunted whirling before diving into a drum n’ bass showdown. Dan Jeselsohn’s rounded out bass sounds like it’s mocking somebody. Maria Eisen takes a sexy saxophone solo, the band swooping in behind her. Because the sax has so much play room, the song has a jazzy air to it. At just over seven minutes, “Turmoil” should get old, but there are enough breakdowns, solos, and dubby sound tweaks that it never gets stale.

A key track is “Seven Doors”, leading right into a marching bass line and steady contra- rhythm from guitarist Ben Rogerson. Again, the guitar, blending with Maria and Bufford O’Sullivan’s trombone, score on the main melody. The fast tempo and softened sound of lead guitar, along with Brian Jackson’s perfectly funky organ solo, lasting almost two minutes, is like a ballgame anthem gone dubby.

Only one song features vocals. “Forwarding Home” has Rob Symeonn sing/chanting lightly in the mix. “We’re forwarding home,” he sings, “Where King Salassie sits on the Throne... No longer will the Rastaman roam;” with the horns and lead guitar playing the same melody as the vocals. The lyrics don’t really go anywhere, but the song changes up the record, and Rob has a classic Rasta voice, and the tune is catchy as hell. It’s definitely a nod to the band’s time as Lee “Scratch” Perry’s backing band.

Vaporized was wonderfully mixed by Jocko at Moresound Studios. Other than the rhythm guitar at times overpowering the drum and bass, the bass and drum blend nicely, and on a good stereo system, all the intricate cymbal flourishes and hand percussion stand out. Each song is brimming with little sound gems that are never lost in the mix.

Hahn and the crew set out to create dub music that transcends the genre, so that anyone that likes to dance can get into it. What I say is, Vaporized is nine songs and fifty-six minutes of sound entertainment, bringing the old-school science of dub to the contemporary club-loving danceaholics. It’s a powerhouse of a record and it’s good to see dub alive and well.

 


 

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