Release Date: 28th August 2020
While ZamZam Sounds is a dub label without reservation or qualification, our roots as music lovers reach deep into punk, metal, folk musics, and other sounds from the well. Thus it’s a great pleasure to introduce ZamZam 79, a musical blessing from Al Cisneros of Sleep and Om fame.
As bass player and vibe-controller for two of the most seminal bands in the 'stoner metal' and heavy drone zones respectively, Cisneros has toured the globe countless times anchoring multiple projects with his distinctive, melodic bass weight. So singular is his tone and approach that Rickenbacker recently released an Al Cisneros signature bass guitar. His deep love of reggae has manifested most explicitly in a number of releases under his own name, on his own Sinai imprint as well as Drag City, and it was these releases that convinced us we had to reach out.
“Apple Pipe” is a magisterial mid-tempo steppers led by live drums, an utterly enveloping bassline, and horns that warm like a summer sunrise after a long, cold night. Focused, minimalist, clear and uncompromising roots music.
“No Tobacco” wets up the hi hats and opens up the reverb-space, releasing snare echoes that filter out deep into subterranean caverns, occasionally boomeranging back from the depths, building into washes that overtake only to dissipate again.
a1. Al Cisneros - Apple Pipe
b1. Al Cisneros - No Tobacco
Release Date: 17th April 2020
Rider Shafique, Ishan Sound, and Kahn need no introductions. As individual artists and fellow members of Bristol’s Young Echo collective, they are responsible for some of the most crucial music to come out of Bristol in the last decade. We couldn’t be prouder to deliver this powerful message music in these extremely dread times.
In a catalog overflowing with lyrical majesty, “When Shall We rise” is one of Rider Shafique’s most direct and moving missives yet - a critical dissection of the racist foundations of dominant culture - whether UK, EU, or US - and the struggle of the racially oppressed within it. The plea to abandon assimilation into Babylon system, in lesser hands could easily be cliched or flat-footed, but with Rider’s pen and voice it is a revelatory spiritual call-to-arms - there are no saviors coming - we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
The riddim is classic Kahn & Ishan- uncompromising rockstone mid-tempo steppers that is at once orthodox and utterly, inimitably their own- plucked strings, haunted pipes, pounding kick and heaving bassline in propulsive amalgamation. Straight off the desk, “When Shall We Dub” strips the vocal out entirely, focusing on breaking down the incredibly militant riddim, crafting a dark, roiling ocean of reverb, swells of delay breaking the surface in blackest night.
A closely guarded dub for several years, “When Shall We Rise” is now free to circulate and become the anthem that it demands.
Peace, health, & strength to all.
a1. Rider Shaifque & Ishan Sound & Kahn - When Shall We Rise
b1. Ishan Sound & Kahn - When Shall We Dub
Release Date: 14th February 2020
Okayama’s Tsuyoshi Hamada, better known as Dayzero, launches the new decade’s next wave of ZamZam releases with two sides of 140 sound system wreckers we couldn’t be happier to unleash. Wicked releases on Sentry, Heavy Traffic, Vomitspit, and FKOF have set the stage for this 7” stormer. Deftly amalgamating influences from reggae, hip hop, and old school dubstep wobblers, Dayzero is a master of momentum and swagger, captured here in dubwise style & fashion.
"Orbit Dub" is a cascade of dirty drums- smashing snares & rusty hats, deep-anchor sub and mid-range wub movement, all of it drenched in reverb, with a snippet of sound tape and siren looping in the distance for contrast.
"Theory Dub" clears the air for a wary view of a dystopian world torn by war and environmental collapse. With an intro cut from lacerating hi hats and test tones, kick and bass double in a pounding minimalist trudge, stopping only to blare distorted horns over an empty, forgotten battlefield. These are rare tunes that manage to be both destructively heavy and intoxicatingly elated at the same time. Full points in the dance!!
a1. Dayzero - Orbit Dub
b1. Dayzero - Theory Dub
Release Date: 26th June 2020
Trule materialized fully-formed in late 2018 with zero hype or fanfare, and quickly became a buy-on-site label for fans of dubwise garage/tech/bass hybrids. It took us a minute to realize that the label’s boss and primary artist Al Wootton was none other than Deadboy, who’d been making post-2 Step memories for his many devotees with a decade’s worth of melancholy club beasts like “U Cheated” (Well Rounded) and “If U Want Me” (Numbers). We knew we had to have some of his new works for ZamZam, so we couldn’t have been happier when he crafted some sound system tunes just for us, the first label besides Trule to host tracks under his under his own name.
“Request” marries a steamrolling bassline to a pummeling 4/4 kick, syncopated percussion, dark skanks, and layer upon layer of haunted reverbs, vocal fragments, and decaying tape delay. While full steppers, the slyly swung drum work never let you forget his roots in deep garage and house. Special Request!!
“Philo” cranks the tempo up to 140 for for a dub techno stepper that is at once storming and dreamlike, the pounding kick and militant snare fills contrasting starkly with floating pads that oscillate and shimmer, floating up from the dreamlands only to be shot through with lasers and left in fragments of reverberation. Late night B side for the stamina crew.
a1. Al Wootton - Request
b1. Al Wootton - Philo
Release Date: 18th October 2019
Continuing the march to 100 releases, ZamZam 75 comes from one of our favorite contemporary producers, Alex Waitoa, the man known as Akcept. Hailing from Christchurch New Zealand, steeped in that country’s unique sound system culture, with a rep cemented by a string of deep and dread releases on crucial imprints including Amar, Moonshine, Sentry, Modern Hypnosis, and Artikal, we are very happy to offer the next chapter in his already strong discography. With roots, UK dub, techno, and dubstep as points of reference, Akcept operates in an open space where creativity and personal exploration are paramount.
Murderous on dub for some time, “Cambridge Road” (named for Green King Cuts’ HQ where the tune originated) is a weighty, slyly menacing 140 rocker featuring Akcept’s signature syncopated percussion chops & a slithering, minimalist bassline. A disquietingly distorted hook, pitched & chorused vocal snippets and test tones lead the way through a dark dance equal parts eyes down & wariness - danger lurking around every corner.
“Over & Out” is the secret weapon, a loping, lumbering behemoth of dubwise built for serious Sounds, a stew of filtered hi hat, heaving bass, sampled drum fills, swung shaker, oddly-looped reggae horns, and claustrophobic spaces navigated by cagey reverbs.
a1. Akcept - Cambridge Road
b1. Akcept - Over & Out
Release Date: 6th September 2019
Ever since their debut 7” landed on our doorstep unannounced, we have been captivated by the powerfully understated movements of the duo known as Undefined. Sahara (keys/bass/programming) and Ohkuma (drums) have deep roots in the Japanese dub and reggae scenes (Heavymanners, Soul Dimension) and operate their own experimental dub label, Newdubhall. Recent collaborations with Kazufumi Kodama (of dub elders Mute Beat), dBridge, and Kabuki are nudging the group further into a spotlight that they richly deserve.
Named for the 3-feel of its colossal groove, “Three” is a locked groove of pure downtempo dubwise, techno in its repetition, hip hop in its tempo and swagger, motorik in its muscularity, meditative in its clarity. Featuring the unmistakable voice of ZamFam Rider Shafique, showcased in a moment of profound introspection and vulnerability, “Three" banishes all thoughts of flash-in-the-pan “big tunes” for an incredibly deep and immersive dive.
“Three Dub,” a version in the classic sense, strips out the vocal entirely to focus on the rockstone riddim, crafted of one of the most captivatingly beautiful bass tones we’ve ever heard, combined with wicked drum turnarounds, lightning hi-hat work, and extremely subtle & sophisticated dubbing technique. A masterclass in dubwise essentialism and profound attention to detail, stripped down to the foundation yet incredibly lush and alive.
Strictly limited to 600 copies for the world. No digital, no repress. Design & screen print by Polygon Press. Mastered by Sam Precise.
a1. Undefined - Three ft. Rider Shafique
b1. Undefined - Three Dub
Release Date: 23rd October 2020
Marian Himburg, the artist known as Causa, believes that less is more, both in his productions and his release schedule. With a lean and heavy catalogue built from releases on labels like Crucial Recordings, Infernal Sounds, and Artikal Music UK, Causa is as focused on producing quality dubplate ammo as he is with proper releases. His second chapter for ZamZam is exactly what you’d hope: heavy 140 wares for dark dances- soon may they return!!
"Hiss" is nothing if not cinematic: a queasy melody circling in a dying orbit until it crashes into its first monstrous drop. Led by a squelching, lumbering single-note bassline that crushes like an unstoppable beast freed from its chains, no-nonsense kick-snare power and a steadily rising hum increase our fight-or-flight response until the very end.
Causa says the tune was created after “re-listening to my very first couple of beats and getting inspired by how little I cared about certain placements and how I worked drums at that time… I didn’t follow any rules - because I didn’t know any back then."
“Palms” is the perfect companion, another 140 stormer with drums seemingly built from white noise and distortion, funked-up by syncopated brush hats & an utterly swarming bassline. Add paranoid textures and a bizarre monosyllabic vocal pitched this way and that, and you have another dystopian side to fall in love with in the bunker or the ball.
a1. Causa - Hiss
b1. Causa - Palms
Release Date: 13th November 2020
Any fan of genre-smashing sound system music outta Europe at this point simply must be aware of Schlachthofbronx. Synthesizing bass music traditions and experimentalism from their home continent, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean, the Munich duo are sound system staples, with a relentless (pre-covid) touring schedule and a long-running residency on the 60,000-watt Elemental Wave rig at their legendary Blurred Vision night. Absolutely no one makes omnivorous hybrid rave-club-dub-tech like the boys from Munich, and after the universal love received for their first ZamZam, “Dun Dem” b/w “Soundbad” we couldn’t wait to get into a next chapter.
The A side began life as a Blurred Vision tool, gradually molding itself into a proper tune. “Akkord” brings heavy dub reggae energy and mystically marries it to cumbia-laced accordions, an ultra-sick and darkly melodic bassline, and their patented punishing 4/4 matrix. A filtered vocal snippet warps itself into pure rhythmic texture, anchored by a clanging metal “snare” and layer upon layer of lush, saturated synths. All these elements fling into glorious, beatless suspension in full-spectrum reverb space, tension and release artistry expressed through three massive drops for the skankers.
“Shell” is driven by filtering white noise that swarms and swirls overhead like low-flying propeller blades over 808 village percussion. Throbbing single-note sub bass and fist-pumping kick form the sweltering, locked-down beat stage for Doubla J, a friend and collaborator from Costa Rica. He’s the MC in your head, liminal hype-man inside the record, at once calling for, calling out, and existing within the tune and the dark recesses of the echo chamber.
a1. Schlachthofbronx - Akkord
b1. Schlachthofbronx - Shell ft Doubla J