Looking back, I seem to have bought / hoarded a whole heap of reggae vinyl over the last 12 months. So much of it that I’m gonna have to break my favourites down into 2, maybe even 3, parts. Since helping to promote fresh music, artists, and labels, is integral to what we, Ban Ban Ton Ton, try to do, I`ll start with what were the new releases…
The first fruits of this collaboration between Horace Andy and Adrian Sherwood originally appeared on the label samplers, Pay It All Back Volume 7 & 8 – both also absolutely essential. The album, Midnight Rocker, found the veteran performer revisiting hits from his illustrious 50-year career – plus a few covers and new songs – all radically replayed by the On-U Sound crew. I span Horace’s rendition of Massive Attack’s Safe From Harm on the boss Bar Bonobo system at the start of the year, and it sounded absolutely incredible. It made me feel sorry for the competition. “Rocker” was then partnered by Midnight Scorchers. Rather than a set of “straight ahead” dubs, the record featured contributions from MCs Lone Ranger and Daddy Freddy, and as a result felt more like a sound system showcase, that a regular “version excursion”.
Al Brown – Tribulation On The Land – Pressure Sounds
Al calls for all people, regardless of colour, or preferred pronoun, to play their part in making the promised land a reality in the here and now, rather than the hereafter. Backed by two typically terrific dubs from Paolo Baldini Dubfiles.
Chronixx – Never Give Up – Forever Living Originals
An impossibly groovy vamp on The Wailers` Get Up Stand Up from the stellar – understatement – Sault camp.
The Disciples – Spirit Of Shaka – Boom Shaka Laka
An unreleased dubplate from 1995. Slower, more chilled than The Disciples usual gear, and fucking deep, deep, deep. For more laid back Experiments from Mr. Russell Bell-Brown, also check his brilliant retrospective on Sound Metaphors` Thank You.
EZEPH – Observance – Challenger Deep
I would have missed this magnificent beast if it weren’t for a heads-up from Tom Dubwise – written it off as generic dub techno. Is that Mutabaruka on vocals?
Nick Manasseh – Lions Paw – Golden Lion Sounds
From a 7 spilt with Earl Gateshead, curated by the highly collectable Golden Lion Sounds.
This 12 has already made my list of favourite Balearic Beats. There’s honestly something for everyone who likes more than a bit of bottom-end in the dance.
Noda & Wolfers – Tascam Space Season – L.I.E.S.
A record ripe with reverb, and atmospheric tape hiss, drops into delay and feedback, this is a set of totally chilled duets between Danny “Legowelt” Wolfers` Sci-fi synths and Taka “Mystica Tribe” Noda’s moody melodica.
Oki Dub Ainu Band – East Of Kunashiri – Chikar Studio
A live-sounding epic of traditional North Japanese / Ainu instrumentation, tonkori picking, and studio dub trickery.
Lee Perry – Words From The Upsetter – Fruits
A magnificent modern recreation of the classic bounced-down, buried in dirt and dug back up again, Black Ark Sound from Swiss imprint, Fruits. Swirling and shaken, shook, by spring thunderstorms, while serenaded by what sounds like a theremin.
Power Dread – Mycelial Network – Digital Temple
Marvelous Moog-y music for micro (& macro)-dosing.
Adam Prescott & Iration Steppas – Acid Storm – ZamZam Sounds
Appropriately mind-altering madness from the Leeds-based musical institution, Iration Steppas, and Reggae Roast’s Adam Prescott. Its shape-shifting synths and heavy doses of delay making for a foundation flaying mix of Jah Shaka meets acid house.
Prince Far I – Love And Wisdom – Ting-A-Ling Records
French label, Ting-A-Ling, got permission from The Voice Of Thunder’s estate to feature some iconic samples from his 1978 John Peel radio interview (said samples have previously surfaced on at least one Balearic classic). Music came from Nantes` Wake The Town massive, Krone and Mateo.
Sabolious – Song Of Life – Ashanti Selah
A sublime saxophone reading of Prince Allah’s Teachings Of His Majesty.
Silent Poets Meets Mad Professor – Another Trip
A Japan-only 12” E.P. of super stripped down dubs from the mighty Mad Professor. Superficially skimming the grooves, there doesn’t appear to be a lot going on, but let the record play out and you’ll understand that its all about the genius use of space and bass.
Shanai & Dahifi – Hornsound – Dubbing Sun Records
Austrian label / sound system twisting and bending the brass, while militantly stepping to snapping snares.
Micah Shemaiah – Jamaica Jamaica – Evidence Music
A dynamite dread successor to Damian Marley’s politically-charged, socially conscious classic Welcome To Jamrock.
Japanese duo, Kazuhiro Sahara and Ohkuma, deliver an album of… dub techno, I guess, but that generalization does the record a great disservice. Within in that domain / description, the sonics on offer are pretty varied. Check the peaceful, piano-led cut, Untitled. There are vocals from Bristol MC Rider Shafique, Rhythm & Sound’s Paul St. Hilaire, and from fellow countrymen, Cultivator, the sadly departed Ras Dasher. The latter collaborating on my personal favourite, the rattling roots of Into The Light.
Micah Shemaiah – Jamaica Jamaica
Undefined – Into The Light
The Disciples – Spirit Of Shaka
Al Brown – Tribulation On The Land
Chronixx – Never Give Up
Horace Andy – Safe From Harm
Noda & Wolfers – In Opposite Reality
Sabolious – Song Of Life
Shanai & Dahifi – Hornsound (Dubbing Sun Remix)
Lee Perry – Words From The Upsetter
Power Dread – Mycelial Network
EZEPH – Observance
Mutabaruka, I Rainy & Simbad – Catch, Loot, Steal
Oki Dub Ainu Band – East Of Kunashiri
Nick Manasseh – Lions Paw
Adam Prescott & Iration Steppas – Acid Storm
Prince Far I – Love & Wisdom