Released 25th May 2018
After being in the reggae band the Heavymanners (parted in 2009) led by Takeshi “Heavy” Akimoto, and participating as a supporting member of DRY&HEAVY after which the band reunited with the original rhythm section, Sahara (keyboard/programming) and Ohkuma, who worked as the drummer of Soul Dimension, started the dub unit Undefined. It is no exaggeration to say they have pushed the variously formatted term of “dub” to the far shore experimentally and furthermore, liberated the definition of dub to “undefined.” Their debut 7inch vinyl released in March last year from their own label Newdubhall is being well received even overseas and in the spring of 2018, this 10inch vinyl “New Culture Days” will be out, which will be their second release.
“New Culture Days” was co-composed with Kazufumi Kodama. It goes without saying that he is the one who has been continuing to pursue dub, through Mute Beat, the originator band of this country and also under his own name.While citing sound texture like techno-infused minimal dub, Undefined’ s track dashes on a trackless road. And there is the trumpet of Kodama, who has also been giving sympathy to minimal dub since the late 90s. A trumpet that draws a vivid line on monochromatic aspect, flickering sounds of drum and bass, and the third lead that represents this work awaits at the far end of the echo. It is “mu,” in another words, nothingness.
Just as the stars are floating in the urban night sky, the sound is lonesome yet bold and bright and the jet-black darkness lingers. An aggressive bass and effective sounds: this track expresses the cream of dub music with its excessiveness and nothingness facing one another. This track did not come to reality without the deep understanding of these two dub seekers. Moreover, excluding covers, this is the first original track by Kodama in a long time.
Over the past several years, an electronic and experimental dub, which is diverse from so-called bass music and new roots, is being recognized again as one of the streams. It could be said that New Culture Days too, welcomes this sort of essence.
a. New Culture Days
Released 18th May 2018
The hardest working reggae band in southern England, Dubheart is on a mission to spread messages of peace, love, unity and resistance through a heady stew of contemporary roots reggae, delivered on live instruments with a hefty dose of dub in the mix. Cool Under Pressure, their latest offering, is the band’s most compelling set to date, a ‘showcase’-style album where every vocal track is followed by its dub counterpart, and the vital contribution of the Brassica Horns—from rising London ska band Chainska Brassica—is another intriguing element that makes this album tougher than the rest.
Drawing on the foundations laid by Jamaican stalwarts such as Burning Spear, Dennis Brown and Culture, dub pioneers like Scientist and Jah Shaka, plus newer vanguards such as Tarrus Riley, Grounation and Conscious Sounds, Dubheart has crafted a distinctly appealing style that is very much their own, based on the organic presentation of their musical vision. Indeed, this fully self-contained five-piece is firmly engrained in the neo-roots movement of the present, with a sound that faces ever forwards.
The south coast-based band was first formed back in 1999, and slowly built a following through their intense live performances, which always harnessed a live dub element. Their first EP, “The Solid Foundation Rhythm,” issued on their own Karnatone label in 2011 and featuring dub mixes by Russ D of the Disciples, became a regular part of Jah Shaka’s live playlists. It was followed by the 7” 45, “We Chant,” featuring the band’s charismatic Bristol-based lead singer, Tenja (who originally hails from France), the track becoming an underground anthem in Japan (via Rob Smith, aka RSD). Dubheart’s first album, Mental Slavery, was released in 2013, a momentous year that also saw the band win the European Reggae Contest staged by Rototom Sunsplash, leading to a European tour with festival appearances at Summerjam (Germany), Reggae Sun Ska (France), Overjam (Slovenia), Sudoweste (Portugal), United Islands (Czech Republic) and the Sardinia Reggae Festival, as well as Rototom in Spain. Then, in 2015, Karnatone issued the dub companion to Mental Slavery, mixed down in a heavy dubwise fashion by drummer Gavin Sant, otherwise known as Fullness; the band was then invited to participate in the BBC television show, The UK’s Best Part-Time Band, leading to their EP of cover tunes, 2016’s “Full Time Pressure,” again with dub versions from Fullness. Part of the band’s appeal lies in its tightness as a recording and performing unit; when you see them live, you understand that this band of brothers is on a higher mission, united in their wish to use music as a means of upliftment. And that sentiment is entirely evident on Cool Under Pressure. The melodic bass grooves of Mark Shepherd act as the perfect buffer to the furious rolls and expressive drum patterns of Fullness; David ‘Daddy U’ Mountjoy adds scintillating melodies on keyboards, including some delightful Wurlitzer lines, and Richard Ramsey’s guitar licks tend towards the understated, aside from the occasional solo pyrotechnics, as heard here on “Rocky Road.” And on songs like “Can’t Wait,” “Watcha Gonna Do” and the title track, the Brassica Horns add further melodic depth through fanfares of treble brass texture. With the rhythms laid entirely through live recording sessions cut at Fullness’ home studio in Bournemouth (with horn and Wurlitzer overdubs done elsewhere), Cool Under Pressure reveals Dubheart as a band on the rise, heading for unstoppable heights.
The dub deconstructions on the disc allow the listener to hear the exceptional quality of their playing, emphasizing each member’s individual talent, while the lyrics tackle subjects we can all relate to, with “Watcha Gonna Do” addressing social inequalities, “Can’t Wait” alluding to the refugee crisis, “Rocky Road” imploring everyone to hold strong in trying times, and “Rise Up” calling for direct action against the unjust system that rules our lands. Overall, the outstanding title track “Cool Under Pressure” really sums up the band’s ethos: the system may burden us with the stresses of censure and control, but our obligation is to stay true to ourselves and resist. And the music can help us to achieve this.
a1. Cool Under Pressure
a2. High Pressure Dub
a3. Tek Fi Fool
a4. Yard Dub
a5. Watcha Gonna Do
a6. Soul Preservation Dub
b1. Can't Wait
b2. Jah Rock Dub
b3. Rise Up
b4. Yes Dub
b5. Rocky Road
b6. Zion Road Dub
Release Date: 27th April 2018
Wahever Records presents “Morning Cartoon”, a new venture combining drum machines and wind instrument harmonies, interspersed with percussion in wood and metal - humans breathing with an electronic heart.Recorded in London dreaming of faraway continents, sunny islands and banana trees.Paying respect to the Joy of Sound, a charity promoting social inclusion through music - a luminous organisation that provided the space for the artists on this record to meet. Their work reminds us that music is a way of sharing feelings and elevating ourselves.Morning Cartoon is a series of collaborations by London-based artist Matteo Boyero. The first track “Homerton Air” features Robert Goldsmith on tenor sax. Tim Wall is on clarinet for “Oool” and “Simple Analog Pleasures”. “Sampling the Joy Of Sound Redmond Files” is co-produced with Rodolphe d’Audiffret, with Nick Onley on tenor sax and flute; this track was previously released for the Joy of Sound and has been remastered for this release. As the title suggests, it contains samples from a concert by the Joy Of Sound. The artwork was created by Basile Carel and the special edition prints by Anonym Zelig.
a1. Homerton Air (ft Robert Goldsmith on tenor sax)
a2. Oool (ft Tim Wall on clarinet)
a3. Bathroom Jungle
b1. Sampling “The Joy of Sound Redmond Files” (ft Nick Onley on tenor sax/flute and coproduced with Rodolphe d’Audiffret)
b2. Simple Analog Pleasures (ft Tim Wall on clarinet)
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 4th May 2018
Finally we can share the good news with you. Portland's Alter Echo & E3 duo are returning to Moonshine Recordings with another smashing release entitled 'Secrets'. Backed by Von D's Spring Dub Remix on the flipside.
a2. Secrets (Alter Echo Remix)
b1. Secrets (Von D Spring Dub Remix)
Released 20th April
Following the success of last year’s Kunta Kinte 2017 riddim, Brooklyn-based label and collective Dub-Stuy add a new installment to their popular dancehall inspired series with a fresh riddim from in-house producer DJ Madd, featuring international vocalists from Jamaica, Spain and Bermuda. Jitta Riddim is a brand new production from DJ Madd; a sturdy yet spacious riddim carried forward by a lilting melody and guitar stabs that are anchored by slapping snares, dub flourishes and a rolling bassline. This is a weighty but energetic riddim with the dancefloor in mind. Bringing the riddim to life are a trio of vocalists representing the roots and global expansion of dancehall and sound system music. Spain’s Sr. Wilson delivers an anthem in the making with ‘Zapatillas’, a song dedicated to all the sneaker heads worldwide who like to sport fresh kicks when they hit the dancefloor. Singing in his native Spanish and English, Sr. Wilson shares tales of daily shoe addiction around a catchy refrain that name checks the best known brands. His blend of reggaeton-flavoured autotune and kicks geek outs is sure to resound loudly around clubs worldwide. Backing him is Jamaican veteran deejay Cutty Ranks , a man who’s been lending his distinct flow to productions for over 30 years. On ‘Double Trouble’ Cutty speaks to the daily realities of life on the streets and the ills keeping people down, warning of the trouble that awaits those in charge. Wrapping up the release is Bermuda’s Troy Berkley who aims his vocal rifle straight to the orange-skinned resident of the White House, spitting rapid fire lyrics about the deteriorating state of things in 2018 America. Lace up your sneakers and get ready to move and chant with Dub-Stuy’s new riddim.
a1. Sr. Wilson - Zapatillas
a2. Cutty Ranks - Double Trouble
b1. Troy Berkley - Orange Is the New Black
b2. DJ Madd - Jitta Riddim
Released 27th April 2018
Expounding upon its already stellar release schedule this year, with previous collections like Samba’s Malignant Remixes featuring Bukez Finezt and Crucial Recordings’ first compilation release overflowing with underground royalty, Crucial continues to strengthen its resounding reputation with its next release from the labelhead himself, Sleeper. Referencing years of technical and creative experience as well as sonic exploration within the 140 sound and beyond, Sleeper has extended his tastemaking musical palette onto his very own imprint, allowing other artists the chance to echo the philosophies of the label’s forward facing, trailblazing values with their own musical outputs. Now, the labelhead is poised to undertake the mighty voice of the label himself with the release of CRUCIAL017, featuring four highly anticipated, dance floor ready tracks that simultaneously teeter the lines between simple and complex in all the right areas.
CRUCIAL017 clearly demonstrates that while the darker styles of dubstep will always reign supreme in Sleeper’s extensive output, he’ll never shy away from flexing his production muscles, as he’s been known more recently for taking his forward-thinking creativity and sound design expertise to new heights while always allowing for his own personality to shine through. Infectiously blending the eyes down, experimental personality of dubstep with the heavy impact of beat driven bass music, the multifaceted nature of CRUCIAL017 shatters boundaries and challenges conventions with razor sharp melodies, perfectly broken percussion, wicked basslines and an overall unforgiving attitude. Sleeper’s openness to and curiosity for exploration through a multitude of musical worlds has enabled him to fuse all areas of his taste to cultivate a unique sound system focused style that is clearly felt through CRUCIAL017.
a1 Le Goonz
b1 Smoke & Mirrors
b2 U Take L's
Released 27th April 2018
Arriving at the scene of the crime, the notorious vinyl imprint Albion Collective untethers their next musical drive-by in style. Keeping steady with their tradition of meticulously well-crafted releases, after a fulminant outing of Stepper’s finest Digid & Dubbing Sun, Egoless on version duty - the label welcomes UK’s heavy hitter Glume and Slovenia-based bass conjurer FLO to their roster.
The Bristolian talent has been causing waves within the scene with productions, that inevitably find their way on to wax and sound systems all around the globe - taking the reign for the A- Side with the murky, sonic weaponry - aptly titled ‘Thug’. For the flip side his fierce production style is joined by FLO, who’s innovative approach to Dubstep has yielded support from the likes of Noisia, Mala and Joe Nice among others. Already having reached dangerous levels of aggregated bass weight, one more exceedingly capable individual enters the ring. On top of his game, accomplished and highly regarded producer Sepia treats the collaborative track from Glume and FLO ‘Skateland’ with a ridiculously heavy remix.
Inducing a state of hypnosis, ‘Thug’ appropriates your attention as oriental string arpeggios whirl up ponderous drums, setting the pace for a journey through low-frequency trenches, accompanied by vocal ramblings and Gangster wisdom, as well as a true-to-the-roots approach of its sonic nature and dance-floor-affine arrangement. ‘Skateland’ emerges out of dreadful depths, unleashing a sound system stomper of massive proportions, akin to opening Pandora’s Box, built up from the ground to kill every sound bwoy on the other side of the control tower. Sepia’s remix takes an equally sinister form - gradually increasing in intensity, unadulterated low end taking the cake alongside his characteristic, minimal instrumentation in full effect.
a1. Glume - Thug
b1. Glume & Flo - Skateland
b2. Glume & Flo - Skateland (Sepia Remix)