“This project has taken over a year to put together from its conception late last summer. The final results are worth every minute of effort that’s gone into this – this is definitely my proudest moment for Tectonic to date. The influence of dub swings round full circle!” –Pinch
I know I am not the only one who was drawn to dubstep by spending formative years of my youth listening to reggae albums, especially dub. Honestly, Scientist has always been a personal favorite; no disrespect to King Tubby for being the originator and no disrespect to Mad Professor for embracing new technologies in an old sound however Scientist seemed to always sit perfectly in the middle of the proto, and the present. His “Vampires” and “World Cup” releases having left the biggest impression on me, even still today. Obviously, I’m absolutely enthralled that this release exists and even more having an opportunity to listen to these tracks and relay some early impressions on them back to readers.
Attempting my hardest to stay away from clichéd idioms when writing this review, it is difficult to approach speaking about specific tracks on this release without emphasizing “the sum is greater than the parts.” Honestly, this is something that I hope listeners appreciate start-to-finish as much as selectors and dancers will appreciate hearing singles played in DJ sets, or even more excitingly the upcoming UK tour with Scientist to support the album’s release.
Read below for my complete review:
Also, you can download the Scientist version of King Midas Sound track ‘U’ (U Dub) and Guido’s ‘Korg Back Dub‘ by entering your email information below:
No bullshitting or beating around the bush; this release is absolutely phenomenal, essential, ground-breaking and whatever other buzz words you can think of. A lot of releases have been hyped as “tune of the year” or “release of the year” and so on but honestly, none recall the fundamentals of their respective genres in the manner that this. What we are left is something that extremely special for DJs, living-room chinstrokers, and dancefloors alike. The remix work from Scientist stays true to his legendary dubs trademarks of vocals and percussive elements that seem to suddenly stand-still in the mix amidst a wash of reverb and echo. For clear examples of this, obviously look to the Shackleton contribution and the Kode9 and Spaceape collaboration. Unlike Mad Professor, most of Scientist’s studio flare has come on acoustically recorded backing tracks. It’s wonderful to hear Scientist’s take on some of the premier digital producers of the modern era, a new sound for long time followers of his style. This is nothing like any “reggae,” “dub,” or “dubstep” release you have ever heard.
Obviously reviewing all the tracks on this release across two full length CDs would be a bit daunting. I will do my best try and give you a clear and concise idea of what to expect. A majority of the tracks on the release are relatively unknown, I’ll spare you telling you how anthemic Distance‘s “Ill Kontent” and Mala‘s “City Cycle” are because unless you have been under the proverbial rock for the past year you already know.
The release opens with label boss Pinch’s “2012” which sees him collaborating with Emika once again, setting the pace for the release with a smooth vocal vamp before a tense build and drop into an undeniably Pinch penned beat. Heavy backing percussion and an absolutely reckless guttural bass sneaks cuts the mix apart. If this is what the end of the world is going to sound like, I welcome the idea; this is an absolute banger straight out the gate, and for a release like this you wouldn’t want it any other way. On the Scientist rework, a truly classic rebuild with the call-and-response cymbal interplay that was a hallmark of early King Tubby and Scientist acoustic dub reggae releases. Hearing this in the context of digitally produced bass music, is undeniably fresh.
Loefah & Sgt. Pokes contribution with “Dog Money” is a personal highlight, again affirming Loefah’s position in dubstep royalty with the interplay of sharp drums against deep, quickly releasing bass stabs. Scientist strips the original down for his remix, keeping most of the Loefah’s signature bassline in tact and adding subtle yet effective detail in the form of bongos anddelayed vocal cuts. Two absolutely amazing “eyes down” tunes right here.
RSD’s “After All” is an excellent addition and one I was eager to see added to the lineup; RSD’s sound, with basslines that frequenly remind me of classic electronic infused reggae, a rework of his production at the hands of Scientist seems like a logical step. The vocals provided on this tune resonate especially hard with the recent passing of the legendary Gregory Isaacs, and Scientist’s trademark vocal dub styles really shine through.
Jack Sparrow‘s “Red Sand” is a deep stepper tune, a driving kick with hypnotic effects carry the tune over rasta / Nyabinghi sounding vocals before launching into a feverish drum and bass drone combination that is lethal. Scientist brings the ‘Nyabinghi sound’ to full force on the remix shredding the original apart in a mix of spaced-out shakers and pitch shifting drums. The pace of the remix in contrast to the original further shows Scientist’s creativity and vision; combined with the subtle shift in the bass drums give the tune that approached “tribal” but is something more unique and inexplicable than that term alone connotes. It’s impossible to play favorites with anything on this release however, “Red Sand” vs “Red Sand Dub” ranks among top juxtapositions between the two sections of this release.
The release rounds out with the Kode9 / Spaceape track “Abeng” with effects that recall the legendary “Skeng“, this track exemplifies Scientist’s ability to strip tracks down to its most skeletal elements and rebuild it piece-by-piece into an entirely new beast. Spaceape’s vocals pan from channel-to-channel over a stiff bass drum and brain-shattering bass before launching into militaristic snares into something that resembles recording of a military drill team running marches in the 5th circle of Hell. Just as the pace was set on disc 1 track one of this release with Pinch’s “2012” the same explosive force carries through until the very last fade-out of the twelfth track of the second disc, creating one of the best start-to-finish releases in recent memory.
Honestly, there is more about this release than I could ever expect to fit into a single post on this blog, and to be fair, this is probably not the last time I will revisit this release here. This represents a seminal moment in the evolution of dubstep and a legitimization of the movement by one of the founding fathers of the original “dub” sound. There tunes I did not touch on specifically here are definitely nothing to pass over; Vex’d, Jack Sparrow, Cyrus, and King Midas Sound, and Shackleton are all legendary in their own right and not paying attention to these when you get your copy of this release is only slighting yourself.
Let us not forget, the name of this music is dubstep – and the roots of this music are in the sounds of dub. It is no wonder Pinch expresses a high level of pride for the work displayed here; it is undoubtedly well-earned. Put modesty aside on this one and take appreciation in the result.
1. Pinch ft Emika – ‘2012’
2. Armour (Roly Vex’d) – ‘The Long Way’
3. Guido – ‘Korg Back’
4. Shackleton – ‘Hackney Marshes’
5. King Midas Sound – ‘U’
6. Loefah & SGT Pokes – ‘Dog Money’
7. Distance – ‘Ill Kontent’
8. RSD – ‘After All’
9. Jack Sparrow – ‘Red Sand’
10. Mala (Digital Mystikz) – ‘City Cycle’
11. Cyrus (Random Trio) – ‘Footsteps’
12. Kode 9 & Spaceape – ‘Abeng’
1. Pinch ft Emika – ‘2012 Dub’
2. Armour (Roly Vex’d) – ‘The Long Way Dub’
3. Guido – ‘Korg Back Dub’
4. Shackleton – ‘Hackney Marshes Dub’
5. King Midas Sound – ‘U Dub’
6. Loefah & SGT Pokes – ‘Dog Money Dub’
7. Distance – ‘Ill Kontent Dub’
8. RSD – ‘After All Dub’
9. Jack Sparrow – ‘Red Sand Dub’
10. Mala (Digital Mystikz) – ‘City Cycle Dub’
11. Cyrus (Random Trio) – ‘Footsteps Dub’
12. Kode 9 & Spaceape – ‘Abeng Dub’