RHYTHM & SOUND featuring JENNIFER LARA / “Queen In My Empire”
The music on this disk is wonderful, but the sound quality is distractingly bad. I know that transferring vinyl to CD will result in some hiss and pops, but the quality on this CD is totally unacceptable. A quiet consistent hiss would be understandable, but the hiss on these tracks gets louder and quieter at random times and is totally disruptive, at times as loud as the vocal track. A big disappointment for me. —An earnest but clueless amazon.com reviewerAbout fifteen years ago, before MP3s or CDs, back when one’s only choices were cassette and vinyl, there was a cassette-only release by the Dub Syndicate named One Way System. That cassette contained some of the baddest dub ever committed to, well, tape but I hated cassette tapes. Besides the inferior sound quality and the inconvenience of having to constantly rewind and fast-forward, cassettes tapes used to stick, unravel, pop, degrade in quality and, as if all of that weren’t reason enough to hate cassette tapes, if you ever forgot a tape in your car on a hot summer’s day, it would melt. I liked One Way System so much that I bought the cassette anyway. For years it was the only cassette I owned. I don’t remember what happened to it—it probably melted—but imagine my surprise when I put the new CD by Rhythm & Sound in my CD player, pressed play, and out came the sounds of some of the baddest vocal-and-dub music I’d heard in years, tape hiss and all. That’s right, the tape hiss thing is intentional. Listen closely to the end of “King In My Empire”—the noise comes in and out in waves, there’s no way all of that is accidental. This is the first Basic Channel release I’ve heard, but apparently the Basic Channel production crew is known for manipulating ambient sounds in the background of the music. And as for the music, it’s good enough that I’d be a fan even if all of the extraneous whooshing and clicking were the result of a bad transfer job. All eight of the lengthy dub excursions (the shortest one clocks in at 5:11) occupy the previously unexplored middle-ground between 20th century roots reggae and 21st century downtempo electronica, most of it sounding like an answer to the unasked question: What would have happened if Kruder & Dorfmeister had produced Black Uhuru instead of Sly & Robbie? Buy this album if you dig dub but if it’s variety you’re looking for, keep looking. The first time I listened to the album, there were at least three times that I had to check the track listing to make sure I wasn’t hearing the same song twice. (Once I was—the album features dueling versions of “King/Queen In My Empire.” Is one a cover of the other? It’s impossible to tell.) Rhythm & Sound make no attempt to surprise the listener. There are none of the usual dub tricks: no sudden blasts of echo, no mid-song tempo shifts, no backward-spinning tape reels. If you’re looking for chord changes, forget it. I don’t even hear chords. Instead, each rhythm track settles into a spacey, skanked-out groove and proceeds to go nowhere slowly, the drum and bass eventually achieving an hypnotic effect, due in no small part to the fog-like and incessant tape hiss. I can’t say I’m familiar with any of the eight featured singers, but the six men and two women all have similarly soulful, patois-accented voices that sound like they were bootlegged from thirty-year-old sessions at Black Ark or Studio One. —Mtume ya Salaam Bonus track: Rhythm & Sound feat. Cornel Campbell - “King In My Empire” forwarding dub Mtume, I hear this dub work and it’s ok, but… this music produced by the German duo of producers Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald who work under the calling of Rhythm and Sound, which their record company describes as “a new middle ground between Detroit techno and 70s roots reggae” is one removed from the source of dub music. For me, the dub stuff I like is Sly & Robbie, especially that Black Uhuru Dub Factor album. I remember seeing Black Uhuru on a riverboat in New Orleans. The trio sang their hearts out. And sang some more and it was a wonderful concert. But check this, when the singers quit, Sly & Robbie kept on playing, not like an encore or nothing, but like we having a ball and we ain’t going to stop. And they kept playing. And kept playing. And that shit was awesome. I also once saw Steel Pulse dub it up live, their sound man putting down all the effects in real time. It was impressive. And traveling thru Jamaica I heard all kinds of dub in the late Seventies and early Eighties. Passed through a little town where they had speakers bigger than refrigerators sitting on the side of the road, blasting so strong, that the sound waves literally shook our car as we drove by. I have had a range of experiences beyond just listening to records, experiences that provide references for my taste in dub that supercedes what most people know as dub, especially in the sense of studio created dub, which is what 90% of dub music is. So anyway, take a listen to “Slaughter,” a cut from The Dub Factor, which itself is composed mainly of dubs from the vocal album Chill Out. In both cases, the heartbeat is Sly & Robbie. Should also make mention of the production skills of Paul "Groucho" Smykle who was a major contributor to the outstanding production. Although it is not widely recognized as such, in many, many important ways, dub was the first popular expression of remixing as a musical form. In my ears, Sly & Robbie are the pinnacle of this particular form, not discounting nor disparaging all of the other producers/musicians who have forwarded reggae and dub music. —Kalamu ya Salaam Favorite dub The Dub Factor is probably my favorite dub album. I remember back in the early Nineties when I worked at Tower, I recorded your copy of the LP onto a cassette. I used to catch the bus to work while listening to The Dub Factor loop over and over on my Walkman. The way I remember it, it took a few weeks of doing that to finally get sick of it. So, no doubt, Sly & Robbie are top choice when it comes to dub. I hear Rhythm & Sound as coming more out of the Adrian Sherwood / On-U school of dub. They're consciously re/creating a roots/techno type of thing. Something that is simultaneously brand new and three decades old. They may not be trying to copy the classic dub styles, but they're certainly aware of them and probably paying tribute. It's not that I don't differentiate between the styles, I just happen to like them both. —Mtume ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2005 at 12:21 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
2 Responses to “RHYTHM & SOUND featuring JENNIFER LARA / “Queen In My Empire””
Leave a Reply
| top |