Super Hi-Fi | Single Payer 45
album review by John Powell
You can’t get much more old school than uniting a super team of New York City musicians and releasing a 45 vinyl roots reggae song. I mean, consider that momentarily… Super Hi-Fi is comprised of Alex Asher from People's Champs, Ryan Snow of Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, Ezra Gale from Aphrodesia, Will Graefe from Rubblebucket, and Madhu Siddappa from Dub is a Weapon.
Needless to say, the all-star team was compelled to record one stellar freaking jam with “Single Payer”, one that conjures the best of old time reggae dub. The drums pile on one another, away from any one-drop, steeped instead in a furnace of energy. Along with the bass, which roams with tirelessness precision, this is the backbone of the song, and they both sound great in the mix, although the bass could be a little higher, but the drums wrap around the speakers nicely.
The guitar has a delicious delay to it, sinking the band into the roots groove, clear and at the same time dirty. But the real kicker is the horns. Super Hi-Fi noticeably listened to the best of the old dub, made a list of what to include, and put tight horns as number one. The dual trombones each take, at various points, low and high roads, delivering a similar sound but filling out the edges, and in roots fashion, bubble. They would be the pole dancers in this strip club of a song.
It’s interesting to be sent a record with only two songs, the first being an unedited version and the reverse being the remixed dub, but as said, it’s so classic it’s not to be missed. The B-side is a Victor Rice remix, this time turning the bass up, allowing the drums to pile even higher on one another, and phasing in the guitar and horns in a muddy mix of dub. It’s as slinky as the A-side.
Back to the A-side, which comes in full force, a drum fill, and then it all lands on the backbone for a while. The horn line is a sweeping snake of warmth, and a breakdown brings the band together. It’s a seven-minute song, so there’s plenty of time for the instruments to spread out. There’s no guitar solo- that wouldn’t be roots enough. The solo is for the trombones, which seems to be having a conversation until they land on something they can agree on.
The B-side is slightly shorter, and no less awesome, and while many dub collections from the 70s involve originals that are hard to tease out or track down, here we have the opportunity to hear both the original and the remix, one after another.
The vinyl sounds amazing. I heard this as both MP3 and vinyl, and while the mix is good digitally, the record explodes into the room and each instrument is heard clearer. Indeed, the low and high ends resound much brighter on the vinyl.
The question becomes, will Super Hi-Fi, who play out sometimes, record an entire album? While the single is super sexy, “Single Payer” is proof that they can make music as modern and roots as 10 Ft. Ganja Plant, and this review is an urge for more from Super Hi-Fi.
Bottom line: Contemporary NYC super group forges a single with a dub side on vinyl? Hell yeah!