September 25, 2005
|Artist & tune|
|Overall rating : (1 to 5 stars)|
"I Scream" opens with Julian Fairshare's inspired James Brown style howl, and kicks into a sample driven landscape courtesy of Lee Digidub. And it is full of energy.
By now we are all probably pretty bored of sample driven dub, a genre which was worked to its logical conclusion in the late 90's -- Arguably then, the only memorable works were albums like the cerebral "Dub From The Heart" series from Jah Warrior, or Dougie Conscious' textured, multi layered first Hydroponics and Messenjah albums.
But this contribution to the dub-sample genre from Lee Digidub works very well too, due to its raw power energy. It sounds like it is driven by samples from tunes like Johnny Clarke's pugnacious "Cold I Up", and it is also reminiscent of the vibes of Pablo's keyboard work, cut and spliced with Freddie McKay’s "I'm A Free Man."
This is a tune to give you energy and optimism, and Julian's vocals are distinctive -- clearly they have their roots in artists like Big Youth (think "Screaming Target"), but there are edges of James Brown, Howling Wolf and old Chess R n B artists like Sonny Boy Williamson in evidence. His energy is clear, and he is not lazily chatting through a number of "roots clichés" as is apparent in too many other new (and old roots) DJ performances -- his chanting style sounds sincere in its optimism.
David Katz provides a melancholy and reflective melodica melody which works well -- melodica is increasingly used on current roots records in a gimmicky, clichéd, token way -- but not by David Katz in this case. This is a fine emotional performance. And yes, this is David Katz, the Lee Perry biographer.
A sole reservation however, is the use of a hammering digital bass drum in the tune "No Way", which tends to flatten out and obscure the elegiac emotion at the heart of the composition. (It remains a mystery why so much current new roots music feels this ever constant, hammering digital bass drum is so very important -- is it really necessary? Doesn't it overwhelm the more intricate and cerebral rhythms and beats at the heart of the tunes? I know the argument runs "Well it's for sound system play innit mate." Well, I am not convinced but anyway...)
Besides that, this is a fine, charged single : buy it for uplift and energy as winter draws closer. Lee Digidub has a textured, aggressive percussive sound here, and Julian has his own original vibe to communicate. Mr Katz has a distinctive, lonely and contemplative inward looking sound.
The combination of their characters works well. Collectively, and notably -- their musical vibe is weird and eccentric too -- a fine quality reggae always used to have at its best -- and surely desperately needs more of now, when so many current releases sound so conservative, derivative and conventional (not only in Europe but in JA too).
If you loved the atmosphere and intelligence of Jah Warrior's "Dub From The Heart" and the old school homage of Dougie/Prento’s "Messenjah" album, this is one for you. Check it and make up your own mind.