Dubwiser Dancehall is based around the songwriting and production duo of Spider Johnson and Jonas Torrance, as an alternative project to UK reggae band Dubwiser. Spider Johnson has worked with Estelle and Killa Kela and been band leader for no other than Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, as well as collaborating with Mad Professor and co-writing the first Jungle no.1 in the UK, Original Nutter by UK Apache. Jonas Torrance is prominent in both the indie and reggae scenes and has played alongside greats such as The Wailers, Aswad and Horace Andy as well as co-writing and performing on the top ten dance tune Keep on Chasing by Oxford dance band, The Circle.
This second release from Dubwiser Dancehall, not unreasonably called EP2, is a curious but effective mix of styles and sub-genres within reggae. Opening with Ready Steady Go Yeah the sound is urban, hip-hop and dubstep- oriented, unrelenting and committed, giving way to the fast jungle sound of Boom a Rang. Next up is It’s On, fitting the style of the previous tracks but strangely melodic at its core. The remaining tracks – the dub side of the EP – lean back toward a relatively mainstream reggae style, with Reggae Dubman and the dub of Slowly hitting territory which is more familiar or less challenging depending on your point of view. Slowly Dub is in fact a strong track that’ll appeal widely. This release as a whole reinforces and extends the reputation of the band and its collaborators, already established by their first powerful EP in 2013 (see reggaemusic.org.uk 7th July 2013).
Dubwiser Dancehall; EP 2; Digital and CD release, November 2015
An offshoot of Oxford’s own much-respected Dubwiser (see reggaemusic.org.uk 1st November 2011) this intriguing release features Spider J incarnated as frontman for newly constituted Dubwiser Dancehall. He has previously worked alongside Lee Perry and Horace Andy, both of whom have frequently and successfully reinvented themselves, just as reggae itself has constantly reconstructed its own musical purpose. On this release the process of reinvention for Dubwiser Dancehall takes some interesting turns, based on the production and songwriting core of Jonas Torrance as well as Spider J.
As with Dubwiser, the guiding inspirations of Dubwiser Dancehall are reggae, dub and hip-hop, and this four-track EP is as good as that description implies. Opening strongly with ‘Eye Popper’ (feat. Spider J), a jungle-influenced rhythm/instrumentation appears from nowhere and then powers along with vocals that draw from dancehall and from hip-hop in a surprisingly accessible musical style that would surely draw in a wider audience – if they ever get to hear it. Then it’s original rude boy time with ‘Pedantic’ (feat. Scrutineer), a roots/reggae way-in to a persuasive deejay/hip-hop excursion over the top of a mightily serious rhythm track. The third cut is ‘Dubwiser Groove (remix)’ (feat. the somewhat mysterious EB) and here we are into straightahead hip-hop territory interspersed with drum/bass rhythms and various interjections of different kinds. The EP concludes with ‘Rise Up’ (feat. Burnt Brasse), an excellent workout which starts with a triumphant anthemic instrumental intro before heading into a very sharp reggae rhythm and some highly British vocalising over the top. Definitely sequenced in the right way, this track closes the EP with a powerful final note.
This Dubwiser Dancehall release is a great illustration of how new sounds, attuned to the different traditions that went before, are emerging from unexpected directions in these turbulent postmodern times. In such times few may remember what ‘EP’ means anyway…but that scarcely matters.
Dubwiser Dancehall, four-track EP digital release, 29th July 2013