Rhythm and Sound w/Tikiman

Showcase(Burial Mix 1998)

http://www.mediafire.com/?zzaciixz2mc

Rhythm and Sound

Carrier/Density (R&S 005)

http://www.mediafire.com/?jdzkifmjnyi

Great dub already sounds murky, filthy and reeking of a bong hit from another planet. I’ve always been a big fan of dub as a soundtrack to long drives to nowhere in particular since the music itself seems to lack a destination as well. In addition, the German Basic Channel label and its catalogue of stoned house and electronic meanderers also provided ample company on many of these same daytrips. Therefore I was tickled pink when I discovered that Basic Channel’s main duo of Mark Ernestus and Mauritz Von Oswald  were recording their own hypnotic take on dub under the moniker of Rhythm and Sound. The icing on this pot brownie was their collaboration with Paul St. Hilaire, otherwise known as Tikiman, a reggae vocalist whose laid-back delivery melded perfectly with their stoned, teutonic approach to dub.

Showcase is one of their earliest works and their only full-length collaboration with Tikiman and it may be my favorite release by both parties. I love the later lps and 12’s, but this one sounds most like it was recorded underneath the ocean as each beat and gently repetitive motif reverberates out of the speakers like a wayward pinball. It is mellow to the nth degree as Ernestus and Oswald’s compositions are almost narcoleptic in that they minimal to point where they almost threaten to fall apart into nothingness. There is a subtle, plodding bass that holds it all together, but Tikiman’s vocals are deconstructed and diced until they are sometime just used as accents instead of showpieces. However, Tikiman shines in his own sleepy manner when he strides to the forefront, but it serves best as a quick contrast to the echo and swirl of most of the album. Sometimes music can swing and groove from the sparsest of sounds and it is a testament to all involved that such a minimal album hits that sweet spot where the listener can do little but nod along to every single note.

As an added bonus, I am posting one of their later 12’s.

Jezzreel-Great Jah Jah

September 14, 2008

Jezzreel

Great Jah Jah (Wackies 1980, reissued 2006)

http://www.mediafire.com/?mytxo4wz3oz

I’ve never really delved into the reissue program of the Wackies label releases, but probably should do so since it has been overseen by Basic Channel/Rhythm and Sound innovators, Mauritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. I’ve liked most of what I’ve heard thusfar, especially the Sugar Minott album, Wicked Ago Feel It! When I saw that Jezzreel consisted of Minott’s longtime collaborators, Clive Davis and Christopher Harvey, my interest was piqued. A few months ago, I saw a cheap copy for sale and figured that I’d take the plunge. This is a bit more drugged and dub-influenced than the few Minott albums I’ve heard and I think I may prefer Jezzreel’s eccentric harmonies and bizarro rants about the Roman empire over Minott’s more accessible approach. However, if anyone is able to tunr me onto some deep Minott excursions, I’d be greatly indebted to you.

Great Jah Jah possessed all of the trademarks of the Wackies label with its mix of angelic harmonizing, hypnotic basslines and and an eccentric streak a mile wide. In fact, Rhythm and Sound’s modern update of dub doesn’t sound too far removed from this 1980 gem. The highlight of Great Jah Jah is “Roman Soldiers” which seems to be an anti-imperialist rant that threatens the wrath of Jah upon colonial oppressors. On the other hand, it is a dense track with what sounds like a dying melodica being abused in the background as the nimble basslines snake all over the goddamn place. A less claustrophobic air pervades the rest of the album as elements of doo-wop lover’s rock take the forefront and the album takes a more laid-back narcotic path as everything is phased to high heaven. I really dig the guitarist’s work on this album and possibly enjoy it even more since he goes by the moniker of Reggae Jerry.  Sure, there are better dub and reggae albums in this wonderful world of ours, but this one just sounds perfect on this humid evening and it seemed fitting to share with you even if it is cold and damp in your corner of the planet.

Savath and Savalas

Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey (Hefty 2000)

http://www.mediafire.com/?ohmo4zj9cqt

I wonder what history will decide when people reappraise the years when the inane terms, post-rock and electronica, were deemed to be relevant. Now, I am no saint since I used these regretful words in my own freelance career, but years have passed and this time seems like a big, fucking blank with few winners. I guess I still listen to Tortoise’s Millions Now Living and the Pan American album along with the Labradords, Prams among others, but neither term says much to me now I’ve heard most sections of the time line that preceded the late 90s.

There was a lot of lumpy prog, flaccid beats and ambient incontinence among the lesser lights. However, there is one album that has sparked a pang of regret about my hardened and revised opinion. Savath and Savalas debut, Folk Songs for Trains, Trees and Honey borrowed and mortgaged the house against these sad sack claims and the end result is something that I can still wholeheartedly endorse today.

The main character behind Savath and Savalas is Scott Herren, who later recorded as Prefuse 73 for the Warp label. He was a bit of a musical sponge and it ill-served him later in his career as he careened between hip-hop, tropicalia, dub, folk and electronic music like a pinball and the results never quite matched the inspiration that was obvious in each attempt.

Folk Songs is different to me because it is remains minimal and only attempts to evoke the slightly funk, sort of ambient and kind of adventurous vibe prevalent during this time. However, there is no “kinda” about it because it is kind of an effortlessly cool album that fits whatever mood matches yours. It is sensual, lazy, funky, psychedelic and intricate and serves as the Rorshach test to your current state of mind. Nothing jumps out and nothing needs to do so. It somehow shifts to meet what I am feeling at the moment and I always liked that about Folk Songs. Sometimes, you need a utilitarian album that never disappoints and this remains firmly rooted in my nightime pile.

Moonshake

First ep (Creation records 1991)

http://www.mediafire.com/?5ytg0bnvtym

I picked this up at 3rd St. Jazz and Rock in Philadelphia as a curious high schooler and this ep really blew open my synapses. God, I miss that store. I can’t imagine a better playground for a teenage music junkie as it offered easy access to many of the artists I love today.

Moonshake was formed from a dubious well. Dave Callahan was the most “recognizable” figure inthe band, but his previous project The Wolfhounds, were responsible for a bunch of mediocre C86 era music that was promising, but ultimately disappointing. Salvation came in the form of Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett who pushed the envelope by adding elements of dub while taking the lethargic shoegaze scene to louder territories explored only by My Bloody Valentine and the Telescopes. Their usage of samples and electronic loops made the ep even more trailblazing in comparison with contemporaries hailed by the NME and Melody Maker.

It isn’t surprising that Fiedler and Frenett went on to form Laika as the seeds of their love of oddball dubby electronic pop songs were apparent on some of these tracks. However, I always loved how this ep was recorded because it would suddenly jump from calm to chaos as the guitars would shift into full-on noise on a few occasions. I loved how they jumped from mellow and ethereal to nasty and belligerent in a split-second. Their follow-up, Big Good Angel amplified the dub and electronic musings over the psychedelic road, but it somehow worked better. They left to form Laika, but Moonshake were still pretty good, but missed Fiedler’s vocals.