Due End Of January 2017
ZamZam 49 is an absolute stormer from Leeds-based Ryan Wild AKA J.Sparrow. Well-known to dubstep heads worldwide, it is an absolute pleasure to present this massive reggae sound system stepper.
A pounding kick, majestic horns and the powerful chanting of Iration Steppas’ Dan Man anchor “This A Sound” from the first drumroll. A masterclass in less-is-more aesthetics, the subsequent layering of nimble hats, cutting snare, subtle guitar and bubbling bass only serve somehow to give the impression of more space, even while ramping up the intensity and power of the tune.
“This A Version” Strips back the horns and voice, opening up reverb-drenched wells of darkness, a primal and mesmerizing space for dancers and meditators alike. Only a truly accomplished producer can wring so much vibes from so few elements. With its minimalist grace and elemental power, we guarantee you’ll be reaching for this plate well into the future.
Producing dubstep and bass music since 2006, Wild’s non-stop touring and releases on labels including Tectonic, Black Box and Deep Medi have made him one of the most respected and visible producers in the scene. A previous collaboration between Dan Man and Wild’s ‘Author' project yielded a mighty tune called "Jah Live” that spawned numerous remixes. Claston Brooks AKA Dan Man is a veteran musician and singer best known for his touring and recording work with Iration Steppas sound system, as well as killer releases on Indica Dubs, Conscious Sounds, Scoops, OBF, and Roots Factory.
Art & design by Polygon Press.
a. This a Sound
b. This a Version
Due Mid December 2016
We’re so pleased to finally be able to offer up a hard and timely digi stepper from Reggae Roast’s Adam Prescott alongside the unbeatable Macka B.
Always insightful, clever, and serious-as-your-life, Macka B delivers a lyric tailor-made for these treacherous times, a deeply insightful essay on the many ways fear is deployed as a Babylonian weapon to keep us passive, obedient, distracted, confused, and compliant. From Brexit to Trump, the message is both universal and very local.
Relicking a classic Horace Andy tune (we’ll let you figure out which), a twinkling melody leads the way alongside militant snares and a darkly addictive bassline for a riddim grounded firmly in the 90s UK dub tradition. "Fear Dub" cracks open vaults of dubspace with Macka B’s voice delaying into pure signal, and the bass heaving from reverbed depths. Percussion multiplies through the stereo field while skanks, synth, and tones cut through the darkness like thermal images in a dark night.
Adam Prescott has releases on labels including his own Reggae Roast, Liondub, Grand Ancestor and Trigram. Macka B is a veteran with no less than 100 releases on many of the greatest reggae labels of all time, including Black Scorpio, XTerminator, Fashion, Penthouse, and an especially long and amazing run of releases on Mad Professor’s Ariwa label.
Mastered by Lewis at Star Delta.
b. Fear Dub
Due Mid December 2016
We are well-pleased to present the return of Tayo, veteran UK producer and selector absent from releasing music for a few years, now “coming in strong, strong…” as the champion Earl 16 sings on a sweet paean to roots music itself.
Flanged guitar skanks, a classic Cry Tuff horns chop, and melodica sweet-like-honey set the tone and vibe, before the full riddim drops all at once - a deeply melodic bassline, binghi drum, and a pounding kick, forging a steppers guaranteed to move dancers and get the most out of any system big or small.
Tayo started the Cool & Deadly club night at Fabric in the earliest days of what would be known as dubstep, booking Skream, Mala, Youngster, Iration Steppas and his good friend Rob Smith. Tayo’s own catalog stretches back to 2000 when he was crucial in the development of dubwise garage/breaks. His works include a seminal Fabriclive mix, and classic tunes alongside sparring partner Acid Rockers such as "Wicked Dub," “Bloodline,” and later “Vampayaa" on Scrub A Dub back in 2010.
Originally written in a lighthouse in New Zealand, the riddim became a collaboration with Acid Rockers that we’ve been playing on dubplate for some time. Linking in the studio with old touring partner Earl 16 produced the lyric, completing a wicked return to form. Earl 16 should need no introduction, going hard as a roots singer since his debut album in 1981 for Mikey Dread. Even a casual look and listen at his catalog will reveal an artist of unique voice, integrity, longevity and talent.
Tayo wishes to big up ZamZam "for contacting me and making me feel special again.” We wish to thank him for gracing us with this timeless single, his first in six years! “Play the music Mr. DJ…"
Limited to 600 copies for the world. Vinyl only, no digital, no repress. Mastered by Lewis at Star Delta.
a. Making Our Music
b. Cry Tuff Riddim
Due 21st October 2016
We are extremely happy to forward the first vinyl release from Cheyne Taylor Bush AKA Tetrad, a member of LA’s B-Side collective. From the moment we heard these tunes we knew we wanted to get behind them, and behind Tetrad. It is extremely rare for us to hear music from a young, as-yet unsigned producer that immediately strikes us as this fresh, original, mature, and self-aware.
“Awaken Dub” is a 140 power stepper driven by a shimmering melodica figure, delicate guitar plucks, insistent photon torpedo snares and pure 4/4 bass and kick forward motion. “Awaken Dub” was inspired by Tetrad’s “return to dub-inspired music” after an absence, and the personal awakenings this return brought him.
“Turn 1” is among the best ‘proper’ dubstep plates we’ve heard in ages, that perfect combination of eyes-down deep hypnosis for the mind and massive body-blow to the corporeal form. All about movement, “Turn 1” is among a set of tunes that got their start on the bus and train, inspired by the “bustling motion and feel” of urban transport. From the rocking, lurching drums to the deceptively simple single-note bassline that won’t let go, sweeping you away like a wobbling lava flow, to the reverb-soaked voice that is “Turn 1"s calling card, this one will focus the dancefloor as few tunes can do.
Mastered and cut by Lewis at Star Delta Mastering in Devon.
a. Tetrad - Awaken Dub
b. Tetrad - Turn 1
Due late August 2016
It’s no exaggeration to say that J:Kenzo is one of the leading lights of underground bass music today. As a producer for labels as diverse, venerable, and crucial as Tempa, Metalheadz, and Exit Records he makes much of the music defining the moment from drum & bass to steppers. He also shapes our listening and dancing through the careful curation of his own Artikal Music UK and Lion Charge imprints, to say nothing of his monthly Rinse FM show and non-stop global touring. Needless to say we were extremely pleased when he approached us with two tunes tailor-made for ZamZam.
“Without" is a 140 workout, at once minimalist, muscular, meditative and sinister. A deep skanking pad and synthetic percussion set the stage for the leaden kick and steady hi hat pulse calling all dancers. Rockers’ drum fill and test tone sprinkle dubwise flavor as the haunting melodics waft through, as hypnotic as smoke trails in a cloudy studio. “Without” is perfectly crafted in every respect.
The flip side “Within” is another expertly honed journey into deep 140 waters, heavy on the atmospherics that recall wide open vistas and treacherous seas. Synth and bass work as one, surfacing and diving to both anchor and propel a massive riddim both heady and totally physical. The hi hat is again steady with punctuating snares & claps, huge chasms of space open up leaving the listener stunned at the depths within.
Due late August 2016
Joining the ZamZam ranks with # 43, Versa (AKA Michael Nickless AKA Michael Versa) is well known to sound system music addicts from a string of wicked releases beginning in 2009, most recently a pair of highly sought after plates on the mighty System label. Versa’s productions are known for extremely powerful basslines, a deeply dubwise production sensibility and masterful sound design.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dub” is a truly blissful 130 stepper, let by an unforgettable, filigreed melody threading Occident and Orient. Washed out yet insistent hi hats and claps locked with a deeply melodic bassline drive the riddim, augmented by beautifully delayed guitar licks and mixing prowess reminiscent of classic Dub Syndicate updated for the modern sound system dance.
Versa is joined by frequent sparring partner Rowl on the B side, “Trimorphic,” an extraordinarily deep and emotive journey into 140 space. Powered by a tight staccato kick and equally clipped sub line, the tune revels in deep pads with a pedigree in the best of classic dub techno. Accented by fluttering percussion, gorgeous synth washes and restrained, masterful dubbing, “Trimorphic" is a journey for those who like to plumb the depths unchained from convention - real Sounds from The Well.
a. Midsummer Night's Dub
Expected 22nd July 2016
ZamZam Sounds’ Tracy and Ezra have been close followers of Alpha & Omega and Alpha Steppa from day. ZamZam is well-pleased to finally be able to present two exclusive tunes from the UK powerhouse. Now three fantastic albums deep via Steppas Records, Dub Dynasty is composed of Alpha Steppa and Alpha & Omega (Alpha Steppa’s father and aunt). Two generations of UK dub combine for a sound with roots in orthodox 80s UK sound system, pushed into new post-dubstep territory.
For their debut ZamZam the trio unearthed two early sessions, recorded and mixed during the formative months of the Dub Dynasty project. Unreleased until now, these two staunchly 140 pounders marry the weight of classic A&O to the digital space and sensibility of Alpha Steppa for maximum pressure in the dance.
Dub Cure combines the bucolic ambience of Christine Omega’s chickens (!!) with majestic horns and an absolutely storming steppers kit. The massive bassline propels a stripped yet anthemic tune for sound systems of every size and stripe. Named for "the ritual performed by Korean shamans, involving offerings and sacrifices to the gods and ancestor worship, rhythmic movements, songs, oracles and prayers,” Kut (굿) is powered by a driving riddim that skillfully rides the knife edge between steppers and one drop, featuring a detuned melodica figure alongside plucked guitar, punk skanks and the masterful dubbing we expect from this regal concern.
a. Dub Cure
Due 22nd July 2016
“When will all this stupidness end? And live in togetherness?” pleads the mighty Big Youth. “Stop killing the innocent ones.” We are proud to present this incredibly timely tune from the legend Twilight Circus, just the musical medicine the world needs in these days of division and strife.
"Why Can’t We Be Friends" is a rockstone riddim with a driving heartbeat pulse and deep atmosphere reminiscent of Rhythm & Sound’s classic Burial Mix releases. Fully organic in its sonics and construction, it nevertheless manages to recall the golden age of dub techno and late-night warehouse sessions. The dub version dives even deeper, bringing the hi-hats into crystal focus, letting the toms and rimshots rock, the skanks dub and invert, with occasional test-tones bubbling up as the riddim drives forward, ever forward…
Twilight Circus is the dub & reggae project of multi-instrumentalist Ryan Moore, former bassist and drummer of the Legendary Pink Dots. Originally focused completely on instrumental dub albums and singles, Twilight Circus moved increasingly into working with voices - in addition to Big Youth, Moore has worked with a roll call of seminal roots vocalists including Michael Rose, Ranking Joe, Cornell Campbell, Fred Locks and Luciano. The Twilight Circus discography is truly massive, spanning dozens of LPs and singles, and remixes galore. This new single is a crucial addition to an already stellar career in sound system music.
Moore recalls the extraordinary events around the session with Big Youth:
“...the vocals with Big Youth we did at Steven Stanley Studio in Kingston JA, during sessions which later got derailed due to the arrival of hurricane Dennis in 2005! I will never forget talking with Bongo Herman in the studio parking lot & the wind went still, then started from the opposite direction - that was the point the storm announced itself.
The eye miraculously veered off at the last moment so JA was spared destruction, but it was a crazy time as people realized what was on the way & started boarding up, panic-buying supplies... I too got provisions, water, candles etc to survive on my own in the hotel... as it turned out torrential rains & floods hit, but no devastating winds…"
a. Twilight - Why Can't We Be Friends? featuring Big Youth
b. Twilight - Why Can't We Be Friends? (Dub)
Shipping Early June
ZamZam 40 is a milestone… as such we wanted to commemorate this chapter by coming full circle to where we began as a label - with another stunning Henry & Louis release from the vaults - this time featuring none other than reggae royalty Johnny Clarke.
Henry & Louis (AKA Jack Lundie and Andy Scholes) is a Bristol institution and UK sound system mainstay, birthed in 1988. The duo’s 2Kings label, founded in 1990, is also a cornerstone of the 'Bristol sound', with releases including “How Can A Man Be Happy” mixed at the legendary Smith & Mighty studio in St Paul’s, “Jah Jah Never Fail I” (first released on ZamZam’s progenitor BSI Records), and many others, forming part of the city’s musical iconography. Pinch, RSD, Prince Jammo, Sledgehead and other close friends round out the label’s stable, and Andy Scholes DJs globally representing the 2Kings family.
A heavily edited version of “Love and Understanding” was released on the seminal Time Will Tell LP (first on BSI, then 2Kings). This new ZamZam 7” is the first time the full vocal and full dub version have been heard in all their glory. The original lyric was penned by Andy Scholes and released on a 2Kings 12” - Johnny Clarke took hold of the words and laid down a magesterial version when Andy and Jack travelled to Jamaica in 1996. Recorded in a single take at 'Chunky’s Studio,’ Sherlock Crescent, Kingston 20 - what a moment that must have been.
The skeletal riddim and deeply melodic bassline form the perfect bedrock for his sublime performance. digi-percussion, clipped horns and subtle guitar plucks complete a truly revelatory tune. The dub version is a hallucinogenic ride that simply has to be heard to be believed. Stripped raw to the core of 4/4 kick, heavily reverbed snare and knocking percussion, the flavor borders on industrial - distorted and atmospheric, thick with tape hiss and impossibly long echoes - utterly unique and uncompromising. It is shocking that this vocal and dub have not been heard before now, and we are proud to be the label to present them to the world.
a1. Henry & Louis - Love & Understanding ft. Johnny Clarke
b1. Henry & Louis - Love & Understanding Dub
Released Early June 2016
ZamZam is very pleased to welcome Compa to the family! With his sparse, tight & driving signature dubwise sound, his first 7” for ZamZam is a serious scorcher, the latest in a growing catalog of crucial releases on labels including Boka Records, Lion Charge and Deep Medi Musik. Compa’s increasingly intense touring schedule is winning over crowds from Australia to Asia, and support is steady from luminaries including Mary Anne Hobbs, Gilles Peterson, Toddla T, the legend David Rodigan, Joe Nice, and of course Deep Medi boss Mala amongst many others.
“Shaka’s Truth” is a lean beast of stop/start riddim dynamics and meditative synth melodics. A massive oscillating bassline pumps in unison with the pounding kick, while a disembodied voice of wisdom intones on the nature of truth, and the importance of trusting the inner voice. “Atha Dub” is a missive from deep space, marrying a shimmering melody to laser volleys and distorted echo trails. A melodic 808 bass doubles the merciless, staccato kick drum, while distorted snares are overtaken by reverb, and tape delay spools out only to be reeled back from the intergalactic abyss. Two 140 stormers for the system and the headphones alike.
Mastered & cut by the one & only Lewis at Stardelta UK.
a. Compa - Shaka's Truth
b. Compa - Atha Dub
Mighty Ishan Sound AKA Cris Ebdon returns to ZamZam for his second outing. The young master of UK steppers & dubwise experimentation arrives after several phenomenal releases including double-packs on Hotline and Peng! Sound and a profile that continues to rise in the international sound system community through his increasingly intense touring schedule and ever-closer collaboration with mic-phenomenon Rider Shafique.
“Rush on the Tonic” is a bruising 75 bpm killer that sees Ishan in minimalist dancehall mode. A stripped kick-snare combination pulse drives the sparse riddim, hi hats and shakers adding subtle movement and tension. Signature analog keys and flutes duel and intertwine in hypnotic style & fashion, while spring reverb shocks and splashes cut through from a distance and analog pulses bleep into sentience. This one is all restraint, coiled power and subterranean menace.
ZamZam’s resident wrecking crew Alter Echo & E3 return the favor of Ishan Sound’s massive “Warning Dub” remix with a B side version primed for steppers dances. 75 bpm smacks to 150 with a power stepper true to the vibe of the original, but full charge with ricocheting percussion, lacerating snares, sample archaeology and even thicker atmospherics. Duck!!
a. Ishan Sound - Rush on the Tonic
b. Ishan Sound - Rush on the Tonic (AlterEcho & E3 Remix)
ZamZam is proud to present a long-awaited 7” from Portland pillar Gulls AKA Jesse Munro Johnson. Johnson is known the world over as label boss of Boomarm Nation, one of the jewels of underground Cascadian sound. The Boomarm aesthetic is one of experimental brilliance, sound system music from outer worlds and inner dimensions, responsible for many heads’ first exposure to artists such as El Mahdy Jr and Iskeletor.
A&R moves aside, some of the most unique and memorable moments in the Boomarm catalog are Gulls’ own. In a scene full of copycats strong on presets but weak on voice, Johnson is a producer that has fully digested many influences to create a truly unique sound. Deploying hardware, software, live instrumentation and desk-as-instrument, Gulls knows his history and the present moment but stays focused on manifesting his saturated, distorted out sound from way in.
Water Creature is a 110 bpm beast of fuzzed bassline, panned toms, 80s claps, syncopated snares, shimmering, distorted synth melody and insistent rave-ish stabs. Dubbed & delayed guitar figures recall West Africa without resorting to ethnographic forgery or facile sampling. An enveloping, mesmerizing, neck-snapping journey through shades of dancehall and dub techno that will demand replays, lingering in the psyche long after the runout groove.
On the flip Gulls delights as band leader of the Gulls Rhythm Force, a real-time ensemble of horns, percussion and electronics deployed in the service of the same simmering, shimmering Gulls aesthetic. A steady 140 bpm 4/4 kick pulse anchors a hallucinogenic world of ghosting skanks, a static, hazy motif that feels like double and triple exposed silver-gelatin prints, clear images giving way to abstract grain. Mirage-like guitar, smearing trumpet and bubbling keys float in and out of focus, emerging from a haze of pink distortion and purple reverb, only to be subsumed in the thick atmospheres and overlapping echo trails once more.
a. Gulls - Water Creature
b. Gulls - Gulls Rhythm Force
Long Island NY’s Blind Prophet (Joe Burns), is the owner and operator of vinyl & digital imprint South Fork Sound. His productions have received support from Dusk & Blackdown, Distance, Mary Anne Hobbs, J:Kenzo, BunZer0, Wen, J. Robinson and many more. We are happy to present Blind Prophet’s first vinyl release.
“Formation” is a masterful 130 bpm stormer built from beautifully dubbed congas, deep subs, a propulsive and distorted 4/4 kick, and paranoid descending piano figure intertwining with a miasmic lead. Brimming with deliciously filtered and panned synths, insistent pads build tension to a drop into pure soundboy-killing freefall. The second half cuts the kick to half-time to open up more swaggering dub space, fleshing out a truly massive tune. “This one straight to a soundbwoy chest!”
“Horizon” is a hypnotic 140 bpm meditation driven again by conga, ricocheting percussion, and a steppers bassline, with gorgeous pads and keys rising from the ether like a dawn sun through evaporating mists. “Yes Jah” is the refrain, centering the tune firmly in the spiritual realm, aligning body and mind with the unseen. For late night and early morning sound system sessions, honoring creation and creation’s source through bassweight and rhythm.
a. Blind Prophet - Formation
b. Blind Prophet - Horizon
Released 26th February 2016
With releases on Black Box, Box Clever, System - and of course firmly planted in the mighty Innamind camp of artists - ZamZam is proud to forward our first 7” from the enigmatic LAS (Love and Sound) AKA Lassi Vainionpää of Helsinki.
Well-known to those that have journeyed alongside LAS during his live shows the last couple years, “Traveling" is a deep journey into the post-dubstep ether - a classic Upsetters sample rotates and swims in strange orbits around a rubbery sub and LAS’ signature conga-led percussion. Half way through the tune a 4/4 pulse takes over and the dubbing goes recursive and non-Euclidian, even while it drives that much harder.
"Omega Dub" takes a turn for the darker - the darkness of space. A hollowed out lead that sounds like throat signing cyborgs navigates the craft, propelled by insistent skanks. Spectral key flourishes bloom from the beyond, and hats and snares are pushed into an ever deeper reverb void.
a. LAS - Traveling
b. LAS - Omega Dub
Released 26th February 2016
Pete Hazell AKA Titus 12 is a shadowy Bristol-based beatsmith, a producer of experimental dubwise dance music influenced by “smoked out hip hop, sound system culture, and field recordings." Hazell says all of these influences came together in these tracks "cooked up while under the influence of Melbourne's incredible beat scene." Host of Ujima 98 FM’s weekly Subsession radio show, he is well known in the city as a purveyor of deep, eclectic, bass-centric music of all stripes & hues - beats without borders. We are very pleased to be releasing Titus 12’s first physical release.
'Bury Dem' marries a lurching 140-ish dub-hop riddim to a buzzing analog bassline, 8-bit skanks, haunting melodica - pure propulsive nod-factor dubwise, a molasses-soaked, ganja-infused confection that sounds like Lee Perry busting out some chopped & screwed. Titus 12 shows that an 'eyes-down’ tune needn’t be dark or bitter.
'Everyone Should (Wake Me Up)' simply has to be skanked to to be grasped. Like the Skatalites with Todd Edwards on vocal duties, Madlib on the MPC and Zomby on bass, this one is for the 2-Tone 2-Step revival that is already in full swing on some glorious alternate Earth. If you, like us, weary of rigid genre-boundaries and want to be surprised again - trust.
a. Titus - Bury Dem
b. Titus - Everyone Should (Wake Me Up)
Last year’s Dubkasm Meets Solo Banton 7” triple pack was a worldwide hit, packed with lyrical vibes and immense production that paid respect to the boombastic 90’s digi-roots style of labels such as Xterminator and Two Friends. Powered by the breakout “My Music,” alongside Bristol grime MC Buggsy, the awesome set was missing only two things - crucial dubs of My Music itself, and the equally wicked “Never Let I Down.”
ZamZam had already been in conversation with Dubkasm about working together, when the label’s selector E3 realized that in recent sets he’d been following My Music with an Xterminator B-side only because there was no My Music dub available… yet. Tracy/Polygon Press forwarded the idea of a "double dub." Both crews were immediately thrilled with the prospect of crowning the original My Music set with two mighty versions that also stand alone brilliantly.
"My Music (Version)" opens with a heavy piano lead and rock-hard riddim. Sparks fly from flint & steel hi hat, an addictive, powerhouse bassline, and Solo Banton & Buggsy floating in and out of dubspace. Banton’s voice bursts forth again, with declarations of faith
in “Crowned In Dub,” the version to “Never Let I Down.” The tune rocks with another serious bassline and neck-snapping riddim, but is perhaps most defined by the unforgettable percussive steel pan melody, keeping the warm Caribbean roots alive in a dark, cavernous hall of reverb and echo.
Dubkasm (composed of Digistep & DJ Stryda) is one of the anchors of the worldwide roots, dub & sound system movement. Active since 1994, the Bristol institution tours constantly and has numerous essential vinyl releases on Peng Sound, Bristol Archive and most especially their own Sufferah’s Choice and Dubkasm imprints.
a. Dubkasm - My Music (Version)
b. Dubkasm - Crowned In Dub
ZamZam is proud to present a massive and mighty steppers tune from Ariel Tagar, better known to the worlds of reggae and electronic music as Kalbata.
Instantly addictive, "Brimstone & Lightning" is a collaboration between Kalbata and a veteran yet little-known Jamaican producer called Leon Electronics. Kalbata’s legendary reggae obsession led him to seek Leon out with the intention of rereleasing an obscure tune of his from the 80's. After months of searching, Kalbata managed to track Leon down in Kingston Jamaica and met with him while recording his celebrated 'Congo Beat The Drum' LP. Going through the tapes at Boris Gardiner’s studio, the pair stumbled on this unfinished tune. Leon dismissed it, but Kalbata became obsessed with the rough gem, so Leon gave him his blessings to finish, cut and release it. Started in Jamaica in 1990 and finished in Tel Aviv last year, the 100% analog mix is like a message from the future to the past brought forth in the miracle of the present - a pounding steppers whose kick, bass & space dynamics have to be heard to be believed.
Voiced on the original tape from 1990, the identity of the vocalist remains a mystery, forgotten even by Leon Electronics. But he lives again in this scorcher of a tune, at 160 bpm one of the most relentless yet buoyant steppers you will ever hear.
a. Kalbata - Brimstone & Lightning feat. Leon Electronics
b. Kalbata - Brimstone & Lightning Dub
Released Late September / Early October 2015
Alter Echo & E3 return for their third chapter on ZamZam with a dark, low-slung steppers featuring the one Rider Shafique of Bristol’s esoteric Young Echo crew. AEE3’s first collaboration with a vocalist, “Heights” provides a rockstone riddim for Rider to step forward with a powerful lyric, a declaration of principles and intention to trod outta Babylon, tearing off mental chains along the way with total focus on the destiny of liberation for those with the will to persevere. Rider’s presence transforms every track he graces into pure message music, as heard in recent months on collaborations with Gorgon Sound, Ishan Sound, Gantz and more.
"Heights" rocks with swirling atmospheres and pointillist detail, powerfully psychedelic dubbing at once organic and metallic, always with fundamental dub principles anchoring and propelling forward, ever forward. The version “The Sound Tonight” strips the vocal out completely, using that space to push the kick, bass and ricocheting snares further forward with extra dub flourishes, mirages, and sample grinding.
Preferring quality to quantity, Alter Echo & E3 have become a duo to watch, particularly after last year’s “Nubian Dub” b/w “Warning Dub” 7” on ZamZam sold out instantly, becoming an immediate underground hit. Both tracks have spawned heavyweight remixes by Egoless, Ishan Sound and DJ Madd, all of which will see release later in the year on a pair of limited Khaliphonic 10”s. Stay tuned.
a. Alter Echo & E3 - Heights (featuring Rider Shafique)
b. Alter Echo & E3 - The Sound Tonight
We are thrilled to bring you a fresh plate from Peter Simon, better known to the world of bass music as DJ Madd. Respected worldwide for his infectious brand of roots/reggae-heavy dubstep and dubwise that spans the tempo spectrum from dancehall to jungle, he has released on crucial bass-centric labels such as Moonshine, Black Box, the legendary WAR series of white labels, his own Roots & Future imprint, and most recently the excellent Cosmic Bridge.
DJ Madd is regularly featured on Rinse FM and BBC Radio, and has been championed by influential DJs from Mary Anne Hobbs to Skream and Breakage.
DJ Madd’s second ZamZam journey moves on from the dark militancy of his first 7”, for a still-heavy but more meditative affair, again showcasing his mastery of space, dynamics and bass-weight in the service of classic dub principles. While recent outings have seen him pushing into 160bpm ‘slowfast' territory, both tunes here hold it down for the 130-140 massive. “Interstellar Dub” sets the controls for a warm nebula of sound, beginning with a gorgeous synth melody. The interplay of spacious reverbs and ricocheting percussion, a worming keyboard line, skanks, majestic horns and massive low end are mesmerizing - familiar in their simplicity and structure, but fresh in their clarity and system-pushing confidence. Simon takes us into a cosmic realm that is not a hostile void but an inviting home.
“Spook Dub” is a haunted tune with a sonic palette linked to the A side, a darkly playful house of dread smoke and mirrors. DJ Madd’s restraint and frequency control are on full display here, as well as his intuitive sense of what makes a great sound system tune. Heavy and crowd-pleasing wares for DJs, dancers, and eyes-downs worldwide.
a. DJ Madd - Interstellar Dub
b. DJ Madd - Spook Dub
ZamZam Sounds 29th release is the debut of a fast-rising talent, the one Danny Scrilla, born Danny Pirkl. Now residing in Munich after time in Berlin and London, Scrilla has carved a path through multiple labels including Civil Music, Rudimentary Records and several releases on Om Unit’s mighty Cosmic Bridge imprint. It is these latter tunes that have brought him to prominence, and it was Om Unit himself that made the connection between Scrilla and ZamZam, a brilliant bit of A&R that we are very grateful for. His sound avoids easy categorization - it is deeply rooted in traditional dubwise, while seeming to pull in rhythmic, textural and melodic inspiration from a futuristic revisioning of jungle, footwork and house.
"Higher Plane” opens with a gorgeous flute melody, pattering percussion, a test tone and a maternal bassline all floating in etheric bliss, woven through with gently decaying delays. Almost imperceptibly other elements are pulled into the pulse’s gravity-well until the full riddim finally emerges, a restrained yet addictive 150 bpm rockers for sound systems on course to meet the rising sun.
“Maroon" is a highly original silky steppers powered by rubbery sub and cyborg saxophone riffs with Scrilla’s signature woozy delay trails and synaesthetic holograms. Alternating between half time and 4/4 propulsion, this subtle powerhouse of a tune has been championed on dubplate from DJs as varied as Rodigan and Toddla T.
a. Danny Scrilla - Higher Plane
b. Danny Scrilla - Maroon
South African born, New York living Brendon Moeller, man of a thousand guises - including Beat Pharmacy, Echologist and Mono Blanco - is a prolific producer known especially for his hard yet dubwise brand of techno. Founder of the prolific Steadfast label, Moeller has releases on a number of excellent imprints including Echocord and Soul People. For ZamZam, Beat Pharmacy indulged his deep love of heady dubwise, crafting two totally unique and uncompromisingly experimental tracks that provide a window into a singular creative soul.
Moeller says, “Beach Dub and Bowling Dub were both recorded in early 2014 in my own studio… At the time I was coming down from 5 years of nonstop techno production and touring, and was feeling a huge urge to record some spaced out dub - so I did. Both tracks were recorded using hardware and software combined.”
Beach Dub is firmly rooted in the history of dub techno in which Moeller has been such a key figure for many years. Unlike most dub techno, however, it leads with the bass and atmosphere, lush texture and melody washing in at steady intervals, waves and tides that carry the riddim rather than the other way around. Bowling Dub creates a cavernous sound world rich in reverb and sparkling detail that reaches into hip hop/electro-dub territory with huge bass, skittering drums and pinballing percussion pointing the way to an as-yet-unnamed genre of dubwise whose time is ripe.
a. Beat Pharmacy - Beach Dub
b. Beat Pharmacy - Bowling Dub
Heights & Worship (AKA Ras Heights of Ital Sound System, and Rob Paine of Worship Recordings and Solomonic Sound) return to ZamZam a year and a half after their lauded first release as a duo, “Teach Dem.” For Zam Round Two, the Philly veterans teamed up with none other than reggae veteran Carlton Livingston.
"Crucify Me" is a unique and powerful vision of contemporary reggae and dub that combines a propulsive, percussive one drop riddim, massive bass, warm pads, snatches of harmonica, modulating synth and sophisticated filtering and dubbing for an almost psychedelic sound-world. In contrast to the current fashion of minimalism in sound system music, they pursue a full, thick, and enveloping sound that totally represents their point of view.
All of this frames Carlton Livingston’s brilliant lyric, a snapshot of the razor’s edge he has to walk to stay sane and spiritually intact in the world of politicks and badmen that is the reality of day-to-day living in East Kingston, Jamaica.
Livingston is true reggae royalty, having recorded for many of the greatest producers and labels in the history of Jamaican music, from Studio One to Techniques, Greensleeves, Jah Life, Power House, Digital-B, VP and countless others. He remains an active and powerful voice of conscience and ZamZam is proud to host him here, vocal and dubwise.
a. Heights & Worship - Crucify Me
b. Heights & Worship - Crucify Me Dub