The Small Axe People
Small Axe People
August 4, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Lead Instruments : 4||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
After the reviews in 2001 of the
first Small Axe People album "Original
Version" and one of its successors, the 2003 release "Once Upon A
Teacher & Mr.T and mine of 2004 release "Portion Of
Version" and in 2005 of the first 'vocal' album, a joint effort with
legendary Studio One and Treasure Isle veteran DJ Dennis Alcapone "Just Version"
and one year later in June 2006 of "V Is For
Version", followed by last year's "The Wildest
Version", and this year already gave us the Area X album "Dub One" together
with its instrumental companion "Generation
Version" the latest release before this "Creation" album by The Small
Axe People, the brainchild of the very amicable long time reggae and dub
(and yes, even dancehall) aficionado Ray Hurford, editor, owner and writer
of 'Small Axe', the reggaezine that has become an institution over the
years, first on paper and later on the internet.|
As pointed out in the earlier mentioned reviews of "Original Version", "Once Upon A Version", "Portion Of Version", "The Wildest Version", "Dub One" and "Generation Version", the whole concept, around which the now acclaimed series of version albums has been built, is based on the "Pop A Top" version Andy Capp a.k.a. Lynford Anderson cut of Derrick Morgan's recut of "Fat Man". And then not taken to just versioning a riddim, but to versioning the version again, and again again. With the minimal changes in instrumentation over the whole of those albums, all in all 12 tracks, the concept seems to owe as much to minimal music pioneers like Philip Glass et alibus, and probably is closer to reggae music yet just as minimalistic and 'obsessed' by repetition, the techno-dub of Rhythm & Sound, the sound covered on this site in depth in the 'Jamaican hallucinations in stripped-down slowmotion'-article. It's clear where the inspiration is coming from, but it's always styled as a tribute, never as an epigone. Area X' sophomore album "The Wildest Dub" is scheduled for release later this year.
This album opens with "Energy", followed by "Mass" and "Proton", all tunes immediately showing that despiting having come very close to the original 'Rhythm & Sound'-sound on earlier releases, this is by far the closest that The Small Axe People's output has been to that minimal dubtechno sound from Berlin. In all tunes the minimalistic riddims form the perfect backdrop for rather scarce repetitive effects, keyboard stabs and keyboard riffs, that together with the strong mix of the tracks on this album creates just the amount of tension needed to both emphasize the minimalistic repeating groove and the subtle changes and movements. Even when after "Red Shift", "Radiation" and the clearly more by old reggae influenced "Neutron" the effects on "Wavelength" are wilder and much more upfront in the mix, the repetition of those same effects sort of diminishes its intrusion on the overall sound. Much more house influences can be heard in "Hydrogen" yet that track is still very firmly in the whole concept that this "Creation" album clearly is.
On "Matter" the keyboard melodies on top of the backing are just a bit too much out of sync with the overall feel the riddim itself gives, on its mirrored track, "Anti-Matter" the balance between the backing and the layers on top is however firmly restored, with almost identical instrumentation. The gloomy soundscape of "Black Hole" is completely dominated by its strong walking bassline, before the album is closed with the very fine "Light" resulting in one of the finest releases of The Small Axe People ever. "Creation" is definitely not only a standout in The Small Axe People's oeuvre, but also a must for Rhythm & Sound aficionados and everyone having a faint interest in real stripped down to the bone experimental dub and soundscapes. To hear it, visit The Small Axe People, to buy it, visit Small Axe People Paypal.