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Dub Colossus: Dr Strangedub (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Dub the Bomb) — a welcome return

Dub Colossus: Dr Strangedub (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Dub the Bomb) — a welcome return

March 10
00:22 2019
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Nick Page is one of the tireless heroes of the British world music scene, lending his bass playing and production talents to Transglobal Underground in its glory years and to Temple of Sound with Neil Sparkes. More recently he has instigated a series of projects around geopolitical faultlines: Syriana celebrated the cultural richness of Syria just before the country slipped into civil war; during Greece’s stand-off with the EU, Xaos delved back into its classical history and music, way before any bouzouki clichés, slyly setting Sophocles in dialogue with Syriza.

The highest-profile of these was Dub Colossus, which started out as a melding of traditional Ethiopian music with Jamaican dub but over the course of countless albums and EPs turned up the emphasis on Kingston at the expense of Addis Ababa. Dub Colossus experienced something of a hiatus driven by Page decamping from King’s Cross to Spain and then an extended brush with cancer, so this album — themed loosely around populism in the UK and US (“Brexit, Trump and the rest of the global madness . . . and how to survive it all!”) — is a welcome return.

Dr Strangedub’s title track kicks off where it all began, with Sintayehu “Mimi” Zenebe and Tsedenia Gebremarqos from the original album returning on vocals amid swirling distortions of sound. But the album has itchy feet. A moment later “Whole Lotta Dub” has moved the scene to Patagonia, albeit with the same deep bass rhythms and occasional echoing splashes of cymbals. The eerie, squelching microtonal keyboards that were a central feature of Xaos return on “A World Without Dub”.

The Caribbean is represented beyond reggae. There is guitar jazz on “Addicted to Dub”, Page reeling off an effortless pastiche of Ernest Ranglin’s guitar playing. Cuba is the influence on “A Spy in the House of Dub”, Robert Mitchell’s piano approximating Rubén González while Orphy Robinson’s vibes are like an exhalation of cigar smoke. Polish mandolin from Boleslaw Usarzewski can be heard on “Family Man” and shuddering Tuvan throat singing from Albert Kuvezin demonstrating that “A Voice Has Power”. Tying the album together is the brass, from soaring fanfares on the instrumental version of “Addis to Omega” to funky stabs on “Orpheus Underground”.

★★★★☆

Dr Strangedub (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Dub the Bomb)’ is released by Echomaster



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