Congo Beat The Drum
Kalbata & Mixmonster
Freestyle Records
CD / LP / Digital Release
April 23, 2014

Track list
  1. Intro
  2. Inna Skateland feat. Puddy Roots
  3. Prisoner In Love feat. Little John
  4. Congo Beat The Drum feat. Major Mackerel
  5. Same Thing Every Day feat. Mutabaruka
  6. Marshall Bread
  7. Trouble In The Dance feat. Trinity & Jah Thomas
  8. Aim feat. Tullo T
  9. Out A Road feat. Echo Minott
  10. Voice Make A Joyful Noise feat. Prince Jazzbo
  11. Prisoner In Love (CRB Version)
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Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
It's not that often anymore that we are taken by surprise when a brand new release drops on our desk, but luckily it happens every now and then. Recently it happened with an album called "Congo Beat the Drum" by Kalbata & Mixmonster, a duo unknown to us and most likely also to a lot of reggae followers. So let's first introduce these two Israelis.

Ariel Tagar aka Kalbata is a techno & 2-step producer, who previously released on labels such as Soul Jazz, Brownswood and Greenmoney. Kalbata did a string of high profile remixes for artists such as Fat Freddy's Drop, Spank Rock, The Count & Sinden and Roll Deep, collaborated with Warrior Queen and is also the man behind reissue labels Fortuna and Spring Hill Records. Uri Wertheim aka Mixmonster is the man behind funk band The Apples as well as a member of cut-n-paste duo Radiotrip.

This project started when Ariel and Uri went into their home studio in Tel Aviv, Israel, with the purpose of recording a 100% analogue dub album in the spirit of the late King Tubby and the early dancehall era of the late 70's and early 80's. A 16-track tape machine and an old analogue mixing desk were their main instruments, with musicians playing live all throughout the album. A year after recording the instrumental backing tracks, they travelled to Kingston, Jamaica, and started tracking down their favourite singers and deejays from days gone by. And thus this album features names such as Puddy Roots, Little John, Echo Minott, Tullo T and the late Prince Jazzbo, to name only five.

After the short spoken "Intro", if we're not mistaken done by Jah Thomas, it's Puddy Roots who instantly draws attention with his impressive singing style on the wicked "Inna Skateland". The latter, a real standout piece, is underpinned by a truly awesome riddim track with a great bassline, rockers style drumming, a nice melodica and dubby effects. Good to hear a new recording from this veteran artist who was very active during the 80's when he recorded for producers like Sugar Minott, King Jammy, Hugh 'Redman' James, Bunny Lee, George Phang and Joe Gibbs. A complete different vibes comes with Little John's mellow "Prisoner In Love" over a wonderful slow-paced riddim. Close your eyes when you listen to this beautiful song and drift away!!

The title track, "Congo Beat The Drum", sees Major Mackerel voicing a drum driven, earth shattering riddim in his inimitable style. Very unusual to hear such a kind of riddim, but with Major Mackerel displaying his vocal and lyrical talents to the fullest it works well. The next riddim again goes into a different direction and the mood changes completely for Mutaburuka's dub poetry in "Same Thing Every Day". "Marshall Bread", a skit of thirty seconds, is followed by Trinity & Jah Thomas' decent combination tune "Trouble In The Dance", delivered over an intriguing riddim with. More deejay niceness with (Papa) Tullo T's "Aim", which sees him riding the drum & bass driven riddim seemingly effortless. Underpinned by a haunting riddim, Echo Minott's "Out A Road" makes a solid impression throughout. Before the instrumental album closer "Prisoner in Love (CRB Version)" comes in, it's Prince Jazzbo whose "Voice Make A Joyful Noise" makes that you have to get use to its unusual riddim before you can start to really appreciate it.

Not every track will hit the avid reggae fan, but this album has enough memorable moments to make it worthwhile checking.