AMBIENT WARRIOR / DUB JOURNEYS / ISLE OF JURA – By Cal Gibson

I realise that I’m preaching to the converted here at banbantonton, but the thing to remember, the thing to come back to and to appreciate above – almost – all else, is that dub is the nailed-on cornerstone of modern dance music. Dub is the foundation, the blueprint, the touchstone of all that is bass-led and sanctified. Everything starts – and ends – with a dub. Whether its Tubby or Scratch, Adrian Sherwood or Burial, Scientist or The Idjuts, the art of the dub is the dark heart of the dance. But you know that already, right?

In any dancefloor situation, any radio station playlist, any party, any gathering, whack on a real ‘feel it in the gut’ dubplate and the heads will nod, the legs will move, the hearts will beat a little faster. There is primeval connection between the bowel-quaking bass and the shimmered refractions of the Echoplex machine, the headspace to swim in, the openness and warmth of the whoomp: it is the channel (One) back to creation, back to the womb, back to the bass.

So yes, we do indeed love a good dub, which is handy as Ambient Warrior has ten of them ready rolled and raring to go. Rescued from the wilderness, the initial 1995 release on Lion Inc. gets a timely rebirth via Isle of Jura and I can delightedly confirm that it’s a slow-burning delight, an after hours funk bomb, a collection that stands the test of time with ease.

Its quirky as hell which always helps – influences mixed up, mixed in, stirred up and tack(head)ed in: there’s a playfulness, a joie de vivre of cuts like, The Ambient Warrior, where neat guitar parts from Andreas Terrano underpin Ronnie Lion’s statement of intent: ‘This is Ambient Warrior…coming to you from the heart.’

And there it is: all great dub comes from the heart, from the depths, dredged up and offered to your ears on a vinyl platter. The patterns are simple, the beats are stripped back, the cumulative effect is one of timeless organic goodness as Oceanic Dub rumbles away: deep sea diving for inner space cadets on patrol.

The other great thing about dub of course is that it never goes out of fashion: a Tubby dub from the `70s rocks as hard today as it did then – and will do so in fifty, a hundred, a thousand years. This shit is literally timeless.

So if you’re partial to Pablo, mad for Mad Professor, curious about Coxsone and slayed by Scratch then this one is for you: the dubs of the past dug up, Night Flight Over Trieste skanking slowly into view, taking time to breathe, to live, to harness the earthy beauty of the bass, the expansion of the musical mind.

Great dub albums sneak up on you: play them once and they’re fine – play them a hundred times and you’re in deep waters, little details popping out, the spirit of the dub and the bliss of repetition mainlining their way into your soul. Dub Journeys slots itself neatly into the pantheon: forward ever, backward never.

Ambient Warrior`s Dub Journeys is reissued on December 20th, care of Isle Of Jura. 

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