Yabass and Friends: Send Em to Outa Space

From the Atomic Sounds label – an offshoot of Springline Jamaica and Versionist.Net (see reggaemusic.org.uk 28th April 2014) – here come Yabass and friends with a new release produced by Gibsy Rhodes. This is rhythm-and-dub as it is meant to be. The title track opens up the album strongly, chasing the devil with a deep-dub sound in a Niney sort of style. Over too quickly, it’s followed through by the marvellously-titled “Economic Bubble 12” Discomix” which weighs in at over 10 minutes and is a classic exposition of dub. Featuring vocals from Michael Rose, MLK and Ja Wa Wa, together with the bass, echo and Tubbyish hi-hat sounds that defined original dub reggae, it should be required listening for the next meeting of the IMF. The cheerily-titled “End is Nigh, Pray to the Sky” has a deep bass and echo sound, alongside its repeated spiritual message. “Battling Satan” is a great simple rhythm track that will be sure to be heard again in a number of incarnations, while the closing track “Slow Orbit” rounds things off with a gentle dub rhythm track.

The album was composed and mixed by Yabass apart from the delightful “Roots Controler” (and its dub version) where credits go the Breadwinners who add what’s described here accurately enough as a ‘Black Ark’ sound to the mix – the feel of the album overall is influenced strongly by the past masters of dub. The strongest dub-heavy release of recent memory, the album brings together characteristically sharp production with the best received traditions of dub.

Yabass and Friends: ‘Send Em to Outa Space’, Atomic Sounds label, release May 2014

After the Ibis: Busy Waiting

This new album from eight-piece Dublin reggae band After the Ibis is an unexpected pleasure: the strong and confident songs, the production values and the mature feel of both the instrumentation and the vocals make for a striking debut album. After the Ibis have played alongside some key reggae names including Toots and the Maytals, Max Romeo, Third World, the Tosh/Marley Band, The Skatalites and Junior Marvin so maybe that has somehow rubbed off. The ten tracks of ‘Busy Waiting’ are of a relatively even tempo, with something of an overall melancholy feel. The lyrics are thoughtful and the sound is crystal clear throughout.

As for specifics, the title track is melodic and simple, while ‘Dig Up’ (the initial single release from the album) is a quietly angry take on the world – a surprising (but brave) choice for a single release, given that it is not exactly upbeat happy clappy reggae. The live track included here – ‘Busy Dubbing’ – has an excellent mix and production, full of echo and the spirit of the original dub era. ‘Fallen Soldier’ has a lead guitar sound straight from rock, and inevitably invites comparison with ‘Zombie’ (both thematically and in terms of its arresting vocal delivery). There’s some nice percussive keyboard (as on ‘Room is on Fire’) from the old reggae tradition, while ‘Light My Fuse’ is a soulful and sweet song to complement the other tracks here. This all makes for a powerful debut release indeed.

After the Ibis: ‘Busy Waiting’. Digital release May 2014; CD June