Release Date - 12th July 2019
In six short years, over as many releases, Corin Bornhoff AKA Karma has carefully built a name as one of the most trusted and sought after producers in dubwise dubstep. His releases are few and far between, with most tunes gaining legendary status on acetate long before they see release. To date only System and Innamind have released his works on vinyl - ZamZam 73, our first release together, continues Karma’s path of strict quality control with two eagerly-awaited sound system tunes.
Heads have been clamoring for A Side “Crampton Beat” to be released for no less than five years. In that time it has aged beautifully, showing itself to be a truly timeless track, as captivating now as it was when first played out. Buoyed by a massive, melodic bassline and pounding kick, thick atmospheres ebb and flow like tidal movements, and hard-skanking stabs drive the track forward. Deeply melancholic pads that could almost be processed horns create a sense of loss, while lasers, test tones, and lacerating snares resolve in sheets of echo and feedback. A gorgeous study in contrasts, Crampton Beat is a rare steppers that is both rhythmically ruthless and rich in emotion.
Awash in tape hiss as thick as a sneaker wave, the B Side is an equally deep tune in collaboration with Karma’s longtime friend & musical sparring partner G.Goodz. Blanketed in fog, rocking with shaker & sly drum turnarounds, "Shortwave Step” has all the hallmarks of the most beloved Karma tracks - propulsive half-time riddim, lonely reverb-soaked spaces, masterful EQ, mournful melodics, and subtle dub effects. Together these two sides show once again that Karma is an artist who fully integrates emotion, intuition, and serious craft to maximum effect.
a1. Karma - Crampton Beat
b1. Karma & G.Goodz - Shortwave Step
Release Date - 7th June 2019
ZamZam 72 comes from one of our favorite producers for the last few years, the elusive Andy Mac. Known in particular for his “Diving Bird” series, a buy-on-sight trilogy of 12”s on Bristol’s Idle Hands, the idiosyncratic producer also has releases on No Corner (in collaboration with Ossia), and the seminal Punch Drunk label. His unique style of chopped, techy, warm, pastoralist dubwise had us from the first, and the tunes he sent us flew through our A&R gauntlet with ease. His are records we return to again and again, revealing more subtlety with each listen, free from genre or tempo constraints.
“Dawner,” the first of two transmissions from Lands End, Cornwall, is a perfect encapsulation of the Andy Mac sound: melancholy yet uplifting, rooted in techno-steppers yet rough-hewn and organic, breezy yet piercingly introspective. Led by a staccato kick and insistent metallic snare, featuring a bubbling Hammond organ lead by Richard Blackbarrow of cult UK Rough Trade band “Bob,” this one shimmers with summer warmth, lens-flare refracting saturated side-light, made for dusk sessions and sunrise sets, preferably out of doors, far from any city.
Layered with field recordings of streams and sea, “Tawny Grammar” is an altogether deeper affair, a dark, hallucinatory journey into the power of repetition in a 140-ish style. Shaker, kick, and hi hat lay the foundation for a looping and loping Binghi drum and guitar chop that begin their journey hacking through a dense undergrowth of sound, only to find themselves ensnared in a web of backwards delays and psychotropic effects that suspend the unwary in a strange tension between minimal and claustrophobic… the dance’s dark beating heart.
a1. Andy Mac - Dawner
b1. Andy Mac - Tawny Grammer
Release Date - 10th May 2019
ZamZam 71 is the welcome return of D-Operation Drop, the multi-man crew from Cesena, Italy with a well-earned rep that continues to grow. Everything they touch becomes a bona fide killer, from traditional steppers to 140 abstractions, to full on clash material. Last year alone saw powerful releases on Scrub A Dub, Lion Charge, Green King Cuts, and Subaltern. Their second chapter on ZamZam marks yet another high point, an absolutely storming release that won’t leave any box it makes it into.
The reverb drenched melody that opens “Bronco” throws open the gate for a brutalist kick-snare riddim with one single purpose - to absolutely crush the dance. A throbbing two note sub and swinging chains sweep aside any and all challengers, leaving pure devastation in their wake. Mesmerizing in its simplicity and absolutely devasting in its efficiency, this weapon has been deployed on dubplate from the likes of J:Kenzo & The Bug - now the beast is released to wreak havoc on Sounds far & wide.
“Coldset” is the healing salve after the bruising of the A side, equally captivating and functional in the dance, swaggering at a cooler temperature with metallic rockers hi hats in the drivers’ seat and ethereal pads hovering above another signature D-Op Drop 140 scorcher. Reminding us of the roots of this music, “Dubwise” is the refrain that echoes and trail-tangles deep down the side chain into lusciously distorted sheets of sound that will have hands in the air for multiple rewinds.
a1. D-Operation Drop - Bronco
b1. D-Operation Drop - Coldset
Release Date - 10th May 2019
ZamZam 70 is our first team-up with the man of mystery known as Marcus Anbessa. An enigmatic figure whose identity must remain secret for the time being, his infrequent releases on labels such as Lion Charge, Tribe 12, and The Most High (as “Unknown Artist”) are eagerly awaited by those who know, charting an uncompromising vision down a path untrod by the weakheart or the follow-fashion. We love music that builds its own sound world with only passing reference to familiar genres or signposts, music that believes in itself utterly - for this reason we feel genuinely blessed to present these two sides.
“March of The Falasha” is pure roots music that, firmly planted in the soil of dub and sound system, reaches back even further into the mists of time through technological means. Downbeat steppers is the idiom, pure heartbeat is the pulse. Like an old soul young in years but full of wisdom, a distorted flute melody wanders ahead through the undergrowth of bass, light filtering through the ancient canopy above in the form of swung percussion and flickering echoes overlapping and intertwining like vines and creepers weaving on temple walls. Ancient-to-the-future.
“Creator” strikes a different yet equally dread chord, 140-ish post-apocalyptic Rasta business focused squarely on bass and space, hard, insistent drums and infinite echo trails flinging from the snares and percussion, creating hypnotic tracers like sparks swirling heavenward from a well-tended fire in blackest night.
Imagine African Headcharge on Jah Tubbys, or a rootsman groundation resuscitating ancient machines in the crumbling ruins of a near-future world and you begin to see what Marcus Anbessa brings. This music reminds us that nature herself will some day claim Babylon and grind it to dust, regardless of our efforts to save it or hasten its fall.
a1. Marcus Anbessa - March of the Falasha
b1. Marcus Anbessa - Creator
Release Date - 1st February 2019
J:Kenzo is a certified don of contemporary sound system music, whether dubwise or otherwise, 140 to 160 and beyond. Kenzo is a highly respected label head (Artikal Music UK & Lion Charge Records), heavyweight producer, master disc jockey and host of one of the most passionately-followed radio shows in all of dubstep on Rinse.fm. Needless to say we are thrilled to build with him once again. Absolute control over sound design, timing, tension and dynamics mark all of Kenzo’s productions, and the pair he delivered for his second ZamZam are no exception. Where his first release was a more meditative affair, “Kingston Hot” and “Concrete Jungle” both revel in a harder, darker vibe.
"Kingston Hot” enters rocking a sleigh bell riddim and builds quickly into a stormer that has been pummeling crowds worldwide on dubplate with support from the likes of J.Sparrow, Mala, and Headland to name just a few. At once spacey, sultry, heady, and menacing it’s both eyes-down and hands-in-the-air material, all bass weight and reverb space, with every flick of the wrist in the mix another reason to recognize that the man’s stature in the world of bass music is well-earned.
Concrete Jungle’s thinned intro kick, spare hand drums, and paranoid minimalist melody set the stage for a hard 140 stepper composed of a sidewinding, distorted bassline, smeared snares and panned percussion that drives deep into primal sound system territory. Frequent sparring partner in the live arena Sun of Selah makes a guest appearance on the mic with a single dread declamation that perfectly captures the tone of the tune, a gritty vibe that feels like swaggering through a near-future urban wasteland on the way to a dance that may not be much safer than the streets.
a1. J:Kenzo - Kingston Hot
b1. J:Kenzo - Concrete Jungle ft. Sun of Selah
Release Date - 1st February 2019
Born Marian Himburg, Causa has been on the rise for several years now, with a tight and impressive discography on labels including Crucial Recordings, Infernal Sounds, and J:Kenzo’s Artikal Music UK. Known for carefully focused cuts that marry dub sensibilities with dubstep weight, his debut for ZamZam is exactly what you’d hope: heavy 140 wares for deep dances.
“Space Dub” is an orbiting station of decaying delays and insistent bleeps that resolve into an absolutely massive riddim that causes pure murderation on the floor. Machine sounds and lasers spar over dread, lurching bass, while thick snares cut through the reverb haze to reveal the cold, starry cosmos beyond.
“Concrete Dub” works with a similarly industrial sound palette in the service of a minimalist, skanking steppers that drives hard into the heart of sound system. Disembodied voices, growling-deep horn stabs, a single piercing flute note, and a myriad of other sonic signifiers emerge and retreat, as if being pulled under by the unrelenting force of the primordial sub & kick attack. You’ve been warned!
a1. Causa - Space Dub
b1. Causa - Concrete Dub
Release Date - 14th December 2018
ZamZam 67 sees the eagerly-awaited return of the man called Versa (AKA Michael Nickless AKA Michael Versa). Over 10 years deep in the dub game, Versa came to prominence through a string of mesmerizing releases, notably a pair of singles on VIVEK’s System label. His first outing on ZamZam (alongside partner Rowl on the B side) went down a treat worldwide - hard to believe it was fully two dozen ZamZams ago! It’s always a special kind of pleasure to have an artist back for a second chapter, and this one is a must.
“Seed” opens with the sound of distant thunder, minimal pads, and a time-honored bass & kick combination, elemental steppers for the ages making no concessions to fashion or trend. Melodica drives through the storm, with delicately plucked guitar and FX bubbling to the surface in a reverb-soaked landscape. Much more than the sum of its parts, “Seed"’s power is in its restraint, its knowledge of its roots, and its confidence in the timeless quality of well-tuned instruments and careful dub mixing.
“Planting” inches the tempo up yet feels much slower, lulling us into a hazy world of lurching half-time magic, with all the same instrumentation in dynamic play, yet creating wildly contrasting results. With chasms of reverb, smeared snares and guitar taking a much greater role in the shimmering dubwise play of absence and presence, dappled light and twilight dark, “Planting” will pitch up nicely for an unforgettable appearance in a next 140 set.
Versa’s deep knowledge of dub and reggae, along with his masterful approaches to techno and deep bass music more generally, makes every release a powerful yet understated event for sound system addicts.
a1. Versa - Seed
b1. Versa - Planting
Released 10th August 2018
Deadbeat graced ZamZam with a release in our very first year of operation. Lending his name & gravitas to our young effort with ZamZam06 meant a lot to us at the time, and is something we never forgot, so we couldn’t be happier to have him back for a second outing. Canadian by birth, now residing in Berlin, Scott Monteith is known the world over as one of the most adventurous and reliable producers in the areas of techno and dub-inflected electronic music. Extremely tight quality control over multiple full length albums and countless singles on seminal labels including ~scape, Echochord, and his own flawless BLKRTZ have made him a household name in dub techno and beyond.
Deadbeat’s second ZamZam sets aside obvious techno constraints for a mid-tempo reggae scorcher that sounds like it was beamed straight from the humid & heady glory days of the Black Ark studio. Anchored by a tar-thick bassline recalling Lee Perry’s “Dub Organizer,” “Wail Ball and Cry” leans hard into its rockstone drum kit, with whip-sharp turnarounds, clattering Binghi drums, melodica stabs and restrained yet ever-present flange and reverb keeping the atmosphere swampy and sparkling. A sweet falsetto intones on the loneliness and alienation we all navigate in these times of political debasement and (social) media spectacle.
“Dub Ball and Flange” mutes the vocal for a traditional version focused on nuance rather than over-the-top effects; high hats take the spotlight through expert filter & phaser work, as the heat inches up in the room with a stew of bubbling reverb & delicate echo trails adding to the already simmering & shimmering vibe.
Mastered by Sam at Precise
a. Wail Ball & Cry
b. Dub Ball & Flange
Released 10th August 2018
We at ZamZam have long been fans of Schlachthofbronx’s genre-smashing club tracks that harness and hybridize bass music styles from Germany, UK, Jamaica, Mexico, Brazil, and beyond. But when we heard the dark dub of last year’s “Blurred Vision” we knew we had to reach out. Little did we know the duo was already into ZamZam, paving the way to an eagerly anticipated release championed on dubplate by selectors from The Bug to O.B.F. to Toddla T.
The Munich pair's ZamZam pushes a sound that's intutive and familiar, yet unlike anything else out there. Schlachthofbronx have carved out an absolutely unique and steely-eyed take on punishing dubwise informed not only by post-punk, house, electro, industrial, and traditional dub reggae principles, but by the legendary 60,000 watt Elemental Wave rig they host their Blurred Vision night on. Imagine an alternative musical universe where PIL, Mad Professor, and Basic Channel hole up in the Batcave for a pitch-black sound system rave and you’re getting the picture.
“Dun Dem”’s ring-modulating lead works its way into unsuspecting ears while the projectile kick drum calls in an extended intro that builds into one of the most satisfying drops we’ve ever heard in a steppers tune. A blackened bassline of pure dub fire drives galloping clave and 4/4 sleigh bells deeper and deeper into a flooded cavern of reverb and dark delights.
“Soundbad” is more maximal minimalism, wringing super-saturated color from deceptively simple elements, marrying a massive dub bassline to smeared white noise snares and rockers hi hats, twisting and rebounding lasers and warped FX into claustrophobic reverb traps.
Both tunes were tested, worked, & reworked through Schlachthofbronx’ non-stop global touring schedule. Results in the dance speak for themselves - we think you’ll have trouble knowing which side to reach for first. Do you want a sound system missile, or a sound system bomb??
Mastered by Sam at Precise
a. Dun Dem
Release Date: 18th May 2018
After years of releases by Alpha & Omega, and most recently Dub Dynasty, ZamZam is proud to offer our first release from Ben Alpha AKA Alpha Steppa, completing the triad from this family steeped in UK roots and dub. As the operator and visionary behind Steppas Records, Alpha Steppa links the history of traditional sound system music to the present of contemporary bass music styles, always with a focus on mindfulness, building community, and higher consciousness through music.
“Liberation” is a breakbeat-fueled dubwise masterclass, a different version of which has only been heard digitally until now. A massive bass undertow drives the tune, while a plucked melody and a swarm of percussion cascades, rocks, and interlocks effortlessly around the root riddim. A digital-only extra to Alpha Steppa’s last album, we agreed wholeheartedly with Ben that “Liberation” very much deserved to be on vinyl, so he supplied us with several unreleased dubplate mixes to choose from. All of them were strong, this one having perhaps the greatest contrast to the digital version.
Ben’s esoterism and sense of humor shine through in the story of the track’s origin: "I started the track with the idea to make a bassline from a chicken cluck, and it worked! I created a synth from a chicken and also added in the skank. Then added the dog panting for momentum, recorded on Dartmoor during a walk.”
“Pray” is a 140 tune that will find home in meditative dubstep sets, yet sidesteps genre trappings with a deeply spiritual message and a sound that is somehow both dirge-like and uplifting. “Pray” feels like an ancient initiation into a transcendent realm of bass music only glimpsed or hinted at before. About this one we will say no more, who feels it knows it.
Release Date: 18th May 2018
We are very pleased to finally unleash ZamZam 62, a power-plate from New Zealanders LQ & Headland. We’ve been running both of these tunes on acetate for some time now, and the results are consistently devastating.
Gene Warriner, better known in the sound system world as Headland, is a prolific producer of dark, multi-faceted bass music whose star has been rising via singles and EPs on Innamind, Unity Through Sound, and Well Rounded Dubs. Ben LQ AKA Low Quality is an accomplished producer and runs Echo Chamber Sound, the Dub/Steppas/Jungle vinyl label based in Melbourne Australia, dropping 10”s and 12”s since 2010.
The collaborative “Fat Neck” (a cheeky working title that we insisted on keeping) is all about space - dubbed, dusty samples flex and breathe, creating a tense, cinematic space laced with sparse, chopped reggae snares and metronomic hi hats. The lurching riddim is bonded by a web of Space Echo, spring reverb, and the saturation of LQ’s vintage soundtracs desk for a minimal yet powerfully immersive tune.
Headland’s solo “Mineral Run” is a 140 workout that manages to weld 4/4 dub techno and half-time dubstep swagger into a rare, gleaming hybrid machine that causes mayhem every time it’s dropped. “Mineral Run” was also put through LQ’s desk, unifying the sound of these two epics. The magic in both of these tunes is how deceptively simple they are, how easy LQ & Headland make it sound… but as every fan of sound system music knows, the proof is in the dance.
a. Fat Neck
b. Mineral Run
Released 30th March 2018
ZamZam Sounds welcomes London-based producer Ojah to the fold, best known for his rich analog sound and expert live mixing on numerous 7” and 12” releases on his own excellent Alchemy Dubs label. With a sound at once personal and classic, Ojah has been carving a beautiful niche for himself that we are proud to forward.
“Cycles” opens with ominous synths building steadily with the introduction of clave, tambourine and a militant steppers kick. A gorgeous bassline and piano figure drop in, accented with insistent skanks, syndrum, rimshots, more percussion, and a powerfully repetitive, hypnotic, sonar ping in the distance - like a lighthouse cutting through dark and dangerous fog.
Fear Not Dub is a militant steppers tune cut from similar sonic cloth, replacing the syndrum with bright claps and rich toms, and adding a theremin-like synth melody and impressionistic melodica courtesy of Ojah’s frequent collaborator, The Specials’ own Nikolaj Torp Larsen, aka Nik Torp. Deep and driving mid-tempo sound system tunes for all those with a passion for hands-on-desk live mixing and dubbing in the tradition.
Mastered by Sam at Precise
a. Ojah - Cycles
b. Ojah feat Nik Torp - Fear Dub
Released 30th March 2018
After a few months’ hiatus, ZamZam Sounds returns with our third release from Philadelphia dub-tech duo Heights & Worship, the propulsive & heady “Selassie’s Song” in two parts. Heights is Ras Heights of Ital Sound System, Worship represents Rob Paine, long-time head of dubhouse institution Worship Recordings and Solomonic Sound System. ZamZam’s friendship and musical connection to Rob extends back to the BSI Records days, and the link remains strong.
Both versions of “Selassie’s Song” utilize dub techno principles in new shapes and forms, far from the familiar Rhythm & Sound homages. Techy clicks & skittering percussion intertwine with the ancient sound of the binghi drum, signaling a seamless marriage of Rasta consciousness with an early morning eyes-down techno pulse & palette.
The A side “Never Chained” mix marries double time hi hats and synthetic textures to a body-rocking half time riddim. Sharp snares cut through the dense atmospheres, like shots fired across distant waves, and the disembodied voice of Emperor Haile Selassie I intones timeless wisdom on the unity of humanity in spite of differences in race, creed, religion, or nationality. The tune’s second drop leads into a 4/4 pulse that carries the tune into full dub techno territory, continued in even sparser style on the B side.
The “Break Every Chain” mix strips away most of the melodics to focus on the heartbeat techno pulse, as metallic synth skanks rise and fall, hi hats deftly shift patterns and mechanical textures emerge and fade, a disorienting game of light and shadow. A masterclass in deep & esoteric dubwise as only Heights & Worship do it.
Mastered by Sam at Precise
a. Selassie's Song (Never Chained)
b. Selassie's Song (Break Every Chain Mix)
Release Date: 12th January 2018
Babe Roots are a relatively young duo from Turin, Italy, making a unique brand of atmospheric, techno-infused dubwise. On our radar since their splendid debut 7” on Rohs! Records in early 2016, we are very pleased to invite them into the ZamZam fold with two mesmerizing and contrasting tunes.
“Be Still” is a deeply meditative yet driving dub techno trek in classic fashion, featuring rastaman Kojo Neatness intoning on righteous living, working the land, guarding the tongue, and avoiding Babylonian schemes and traps laid by the wicked. Maternal bass and shimmering reverbs envelop a heartbeat rhythm of kick, shaker and distant snares for a timeless vibe that shows mastery of the idiom while updating it for contemporary sound systems.
“Rawness” is an extraordinarily deep 140 journey that opens with rich pads and swirling atmospherics, creating a psychoactive ambience that builds into a steady kick. The full riddim hits and plunges us even deeper with restrained, syncopated drums and percussion. Churning bass powers us through the dense, hallucinatory fog as tendrils of electricity probe and zap, and serrated snares cut through the tape haze and studio clouds in the last third. Carving out a gorgeous edge between deep dubstep and dub techno, “Rawness” hits all the marks and will find a home in a huge range of sets.
a. Be Still
Due Early December 2017
2017 was a serious year for Von D, with releases on a number of great labels including our long-format imprint Khaliphonic, plus Amar, Moonshine, Lion Charge and more. For ZamZam, Von D has delivered “Over” -- a brooding, burning 140 anthem providing serious heat as we head into the dark winter months.
“Over” features a powerful half-time reggae riddim built from Von D’s signature warm, enveloping bass and restrained but powerful drums. Tambourine and guiro add flavor while the snares slap, and Meekman’s kete drum rocks throughout, adding a swing and live feeling missing from many contemporary in-the-box sound system tunes. Melodica and synth skank in unison, underpinning a dizzying spread of analog signals & sonics.
With reality lyrics straight from Kingston JA courtesy of Shamarie Kamar Bogle AKA Digital Sham, the tune is brought to a boil with heady verbal vapors on poverty, struggle, corruption, daily stresses caused by the political shitstem, and the inevitable end of the wickedness that is so prevalent in these times.
The dub version spools out the echoes and forwards the kete drum in fine style, displaying brilliant filter-sweep moves and reverbs so luscious the space they define seems to breathe. “Chalice Overdubs” also features gorgeous guitar work starting halfway through, adding another melodic, rhythmic and textural element for much more than a simple version. Mastered by Sam at Precise.
a. Von D - Over (feat. Digital Sham)
b. Von D - Chalice Overdubs
Release Date: 10th November 2017
Sam Böök, better known in the world of forward-thinking sound system music as the elusive Finnish producer Mikael, has built a highly-respected catalog of tunes on Innamind Recordings. We are proud that he has chosen ZamZam for his first venture on a different label.
"Nuthin’ A Come" is a massive one drop tune, built with classic dub principles in mind, and contemporary sound system dynamics fully dialed. A huge bassline both rubbery and subby anchors the track, along with sparse drums, hard skanks and relentless spring reverb slaps deployed as percussive elements. Washes of white noise and a drop into a wide open chasm calls in a double-time kick, taking the tune into steppers territory until a sublime, cinematic outro.
"Corner Dub” is a bruising yet heady vehicle built from a reggae chassis, scraped up dubstep panels, dusted Jamaican vocal samples, twisted valve work and a thick patina of delay and plaintive melodica. This one drives to destinations beyond the horizon, taking in the shimmering scenery on the way.
Both tunes are highly focused, deeply transporting on headphones, and make for carthatic movements in the dance. Enjoy.
a. Nuthin’ a Come
b. Corner Dub
Release Date: Mid-September 2017
We were very proud to release Titus 12’s debut physical release early last year, and we are just as proud to present his second ZamZam. Longtime host of Ujima 98 FM’s Subsession radio show out of Bristol, and the hand behind new cassette label Limbo Tapes, Pete Hazell is well-known in his city as a purveyor of deep, eclectic, bass-centric music of many hues and shades… his myriad influences alchemically combine into a signature sound that is as unmistakeable as it is difficult to pin down. In a world of cookie-cutter soundworlds Titus 12 conjures something truly personal and magical and makes it sound effortless.
“Summon Luxo” opens with raw vinyl archaeology, managing to wed a humid, plaintive, layered vocal chop to a sultry boom bap riddim, with so much swing and space you’ll swoon under its strange power. Titus 12 says, "Summon Luxo came about after falling in love with a recording of an Ethiopian funeral song, and the suggestion that the singer might be summoned to a funeral from many miles away, because of the calibre of his lament." Intertwining melodies, sophisticated vocal manipulations, deeply elastic bass and ethereal ragga flavor complete an absolutely unique and captivating tune you’ll want to rewind again and again.
“Silly Youth” fuses distorted french cafe melodica vibes to rugged sound tape boasts and smoked-out 140 swagger with Titus’ signature reverb-filled spaces, 808 bass and aquatic claps for another singular journey through the mind of a true original. No dibby-dibby sound!!
Mastered by Sam at Precise
a1. Summon Luxo
b1. Silly Youth
Released 28th July 2017
We are proud to present our second release by Beat Pharmacy AKA Brendon Moeller AKA Echologist, a singular voice in contemporary electronic, techno, and sound system musics in his various guises. Beat Pharmacy tunes begin life as live hardware jams where reverb, echo and delay rule the day, and rugged textures rub against digital processing.
In “Density,” bass, kick and heavily reverbed piano skanks anchor an instantly enveloping soundworld of deepest dubwise ambience. From around hidden corners emerge the hiss of distant pistons and valves, sentient machinery working in complex relationships. Wobbles, wubs and sweeps communicate across cavernous spaces, as strange rhythmic elements sputter and spatter, tangling and massing in double-time to the point of rupture, only to resolve into crystalline moments of suspension into gorgeous, neck-snapping drops. Simply mesmerizing, and heavy in the dance. “Everything to Gain” is spun from the same heavy metals, with a sparser feel, processed voice, and a buzzing, repeating alarm figure that sounds like a submarine warning that the dive is getting too deep, too dangerous…
Music that is moving, powerful, evocative and kinetic, slotting beautifully into 140 sets while defying easy categorization or description, always following vision over fashion. This is why we love Beat Pharmacy.
Mastered by Lewis at StarDelta
b. Everything To Gain
Released 28th July 2017
D-Operation Drop is a 6-man crew from Cesena, Italy with a strong and growing catalog of sound system killers, from orthodox steppers to dubstep abstractions and strange hybrids of the two. Recent releases on Moonshine, Artikal, and Lion Charge have cemented their position, and we are thrilled to invite them into the ZamZam fold with two chunks of 140 weight.
“Warrior March” opens with a mesmerizing pad that immediately draws the unsuspecting into a unique soundworld and doesn’t let go til the runout groove. A smeared, chopping-block snare, deep subsonic rumblings, swung percussion, massed yet minimal horns make a darkly coiled track, menacing yet full of funk and movement.
“Sativa Team” captivates just as deeply with fewer moving parts, loping drums and leaden percussion, churning bassline, chopped and glitched JA-voices and sound tape, and ominous, clipped horns that wobble with tape delay in a strange airless void. Brooding yet cathartic, tripped out but fully physical, with both tunes D-Operation Drop display their total control over a restrained and powerful palette.
Mastered by Lewis at StarDelta
a. Warrior March
b. Sativa Team
Released 19th June 2017
We are very happy to welcome Jeroen Verschueren AKA Digid into the ZamZam fold with two cuts of high grade sound system fire. Straight outta Belgium, Digid has had our attention for a few years now thanks to a string of crucial releases on labels including Cubiculo, Moonshine, and Lion Charge. We dare say this wicked release will further his steep rise in profile.
“We Nah Go” is a well-tested weapon, a full-charge stepper with both deep space and big room appeal. Crisp & heavy production captivate with sizzling high end, massive bassweight, and kick drum pushing into the red. The cinematic melodic figure, majestic horns, and mysterious, reverb-soaked atmosphere add up to a can’t-fail powerhouse in the dance.
“Digital Time” counters with a similar sonic palette and epic sweep, but an utterly deep and more meditative vibe. This is full eyes-down weaponry with a half time/one drop feel, chasms of reverb, tape echo madness, and a wobbly bassline from the eternal present of Early Dubstep.
Mastered by Lewis at Stardelta.
a. We Nah Go
b. Digital Time
Due for Release 28th April 2017
ZamZam 52 is a fully outernational
"Nada A Perder” ("Nothing To Lose") leads off with hard skanks and a deceptively wistful melody. Enter the honeyed-yet-gritty voice of rootsman Junior Dread over mashing steppers drums and a monstrous bassline designed with nothing but sound system pressure in mind. Junior Dread’s powerful vocal, sung beautifully in his native Portuguese, delivers a message centered on unifying across difference: “When Bukkha came with the instrumental,” he says, "it made me think about overcoming our generation’s biggest obstacles if we unite.” His inspiration in music comes from “life itself and Jah the Creator,” and as a believer in “Word Sound Power,” Junior Dread focuses exclusively on positive, empowering lyrics.
The dub version travels deep through swirling vapor trails, carving out space by stripping back the vocal, echoing the skanks hard, opening up the reverbs, firing off the lasers, and valving-up the bassline for an even more militant side.
Bukkha’s profile continues to rise with recent releases on labels including Dub Stuy, and Moonshine, with more dropping soon. Sparring partner Madplate Sound has also released on Moonshine and Dub Stuy, and Junior Dread is well-known for tunes on the above labels, and the seminal “Rise” on Gorgon Sound’s Peng Sound debut.
a. Nada A Perder (Nothing To Lose)
b. Nada A Dub
Due 28th April 2017
ZamZam embarks on their next 50 releases with the return of Portland’s own Systemwide. After a many-years hiatus the crew once hailed as “The States' finest dub band,” by author & journalist Jeff Chang, is back with two new adventures into live left-of-center dubwise.
Systemwide released their first album 20 years ago this year, and dealt in an utterly unique live, full-band, leftfield, DIY mutation of dub until 2003. They collaborated extensively with Sound Secretion (now known as Alter Echo), and were remixed by the likes of Muslimgauze, Twilight Circus, Zion Train, Alpha & Omega, Deadbeat, and many others. They were well-known as a live band from Seattle to LA, opened for Lee Perry and Dub Syndicate up and down the West Coast, and were mixed live by none other than Scientist.
Aside from the occasional reunion show, a number of forces sent the band into a long hiatus. But a new generation was exposed to their unique brand of live dubwise via Bristol’s No Corner in 2016, when the label reissued two early cuts on limited 12”. This release was a partial catalyst for the creation of these new tunes. In truth the boys had been getting together every few months since 2013 to blast out improvised jams for fun, but with the foresight to multitrack every minute of them. The task was then to shape two of these freeform jams into proper tunes. Systemwide was always at their best live, and both of these sides capture that energy while harnessing the vibes to 7” length.
The lineup is a deadly tight combo of midi drums (Tim Ennis), Korg and Moog bass (Mondell Wells), samples and FX (Steve Wegner), Synths and keys (Tim Andrews), and percussion and samples (Ezra Ereckson AKA E3). For this release the crew chose to recruit Alter Echo for a mix, as his deft touch always brought out the deepest aspects of the band’s sound. In addition, it felt natural to ask Dubkasm for a version as they championed the No Corner 12” with enthusiasm and earnest love.
"Low Orbit" describes a heavy, dark, enveloping dub universe in the classic Systemwide fashion, led by a growling, minimal bassline with swung drums fully locked. Thick, swirling, alien atmospheres that wed inner out and outer space through ancient samples, test tones, cosmic sparkles and a gallery of organic percussion. Hard and low-slung at 134 bpm, it pitches up easily for the 140 crew.
Dubkasm’s remix of “Liberation” echoes out from the same well, offering a solemn, magisterial steppers with bubbling bassline and keys seeming to refract each other through dubwise prisms. Bristol legend and Rasta elder Ras Addis intones words of wisdom as Stryda and Digistep work their magic with a brilliant hide-and-seek journey through the tune’s instrumentation and the deep spaces opened up through their own hardware and Sountracs desk.
a. Low Orbit (Alter Echo Mix)
b. Liberation (Dubkasm Mix)
****As a special gift to celebrate ZamZam 50 we are including a full color poster documenting the art of ZamZam 01-49 folded into every copy.****
There are few producers in the world of underground bass and dubwise music working today with the breadth, depth, and genre-busting powers of Ognjen Zecevic, the man called Egoless. From post-everything blasts of wonky crunch & bass, to the most sparkling, orthodox reggae, his mastery of analog and digital production, and his free-roaming imagination and intuition make every Egoless plate a special, surprising, and rewarding experience.
We’ve been holding this tune for some time… we kept it back as we knew right away it was fully deserving of the #50 spot in our catalog, a release we’ve been steadily working towards for a full 5 years. It exemplifies what we have tried to build with ZamZam - a body of forward thinking heart and soul music, message music, physical music, sound system music.
For "Non-Immigrant Song” the Croatian Gorgon linked with rising sing-jay star Tenor Youthman (virtually unknown outside of his native Russia when the tune was recorded). Egoless says "It was one of those moments when I received a message and some tunes from a guy in Russia, expecting the worst English ever... Oh how I was wrong, this guy blew me away with the natural organic quality of his voice and we did this tune shortly afterward.”
The lyric was extremely relevant when we first heard it, but we could not have imagined how relevance would turn to urgency with the rise of anti-immigrant extremism, Brexit, Trumpism and full-blown fascist infections spreading in so many parts of the world. A plea to all those who lose touch with our humanity when we treat anyone as ‘other’ - native-born as immigrants, immigrants as refugees, refugees as less than human.
As for the music… an effortlessly swinging, massive one drop riddim in classic formation. Buttery bass and thick kick hitting hard in unison. Sparse and spare. Strictly analog effects and flawless instrumentation. We asked Egoless for a truly OUT dub version to back the vocal, and he obviously didn’t disappoint - absolute desk & tape madness in the tradition of the most dub-me-crazy Ariwa or Black Ark meltdowns.
We couldn’t be more thrilled with this record and this milestone arrived at through so much work and so much support from our worldwide community.
a. Non-Immigrant Song
b. Non-Immigrant Dub