Album review
Paul St.Hilaire
False Tuned/ Indigo
28 - 07 - 2003

Tracking list

  1. One After One
  2. Don't Test
  3. Society
  4. Picking Up
  5. Mini Miney Moe
  6. So Sure
  7. Road
  8. Custody
  9. Senza
  10. Drifting
  11. Changerine
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4

Even if your into techno and nu-dub, you still might never have heard of Paul St.Hilaire, but you will surely be familiar with his voice. To avoid a major lawsuit with someone in the US holding the rights to his former moniker, Tikiman had to retreat to his real name Paul St.Hilaire. As Tikiman he performed (a.o. at the last Drum Rhythm Festival held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) alongside Austrian lounge/downtempo/nu-dub wizards Kruder & Dorfmeister with their MC Sugar B and some of their labelmates. He was prominently featured on Stereotyp's "My Sound" album, released on Kruder & Dorfmeister's G-Stone label, singing the Peter Kruder co-produced title track, "Jahman" and the tune he co-wrote "Fling Style". He also released an album Rhythm & Sound w/ Tikiman - "Showcase" (now retitled: w/ Paul St.Hilaire) for one of the several anonymous projects linked to the mysterious Berlin dub-techno duo Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, Rhythm & Sound. They just recently broke the silence and mystery, giving something remotely resembling an interview (but no pictures of them) to German dancehall and reggae magazine riddim. Von Oswald and Ernestus' Rhythm & Sound recordings released as a series of 10" records on Burial Mix and 12" records on Rhythm & Sound, both labels distributed by Hardwax, are much more dub-influenced and less techno-orientated than the duo's previous, and more legendary, dub-techno recordings as Basic Channel and Maurizio. The latter, the Maurizio/M-Series releases, are often incorrectly identified as Von Oswald's solo work, but these are as much Von Oswald and Ernestus projects as the other releases. Where those earlier recordings synthesized a Detroit-influenced style of minimal techno with dub-reggae bass lines, the late-'90s Rhythm & Sound productions emphasized the dub-reggae aesthetic rather than the more dancefloor-orientated techno sound of the early-'90s Basic Channel and Maurizio recordings. Thus, the Rhythm & Sound records, which often featured reggae vocalist Paul St. Hilaire, weren't quite as popular or well-known as the duo's Basic Channel recordings, which instead retained their popularity over the years, becoming quite legendary and oft-cited within the techno scene. Nonetheless, Von Oswald and Ernestus' Rhythm & Sound work prevailed into the early 2000s, being compiled on two listener-friendly CDs, Showcase (1998) and Rhythm & Sound (2001). They are now at the reggae rerelease forefront in Germany as they have started rereleasing the complete legendary reggae and dub catalog from Wackie's. More on their releases, whether technodub on Basic Channel or their Rhythm & Sound and Wackie's releases can be found at www.basicchannel.com. The first self-produced album "Unspecified" from Dominican Paul St.Hilaire on his own False Tuned label (luckily not appropriate for the tunes on this album) is heavily embedded in the Rhythm & Sound style, deep bass and minimalistic organ and percussion effects, digital with some additional live instrumentation. It's the perfect backing for his smooth voice reminiscent of Earl 16 / Bim Sherman on most of the tunes. The opener "One After One" with lyrics about tribulation is a strong indication of what follows. This album has no weak tracks, it's a quality piece of heavily dubbed up riddims, great smooth singing, with experiments. "Don't Test" is a plea for peace, followed by another conscious tune "Society" before we get the lovers tune with a great guitar embedded in the riddim on "Picking Up". "Mini Miney Moe" is a track that sounds as a mid 70s recorded roots track, and that is meant as a big compliment. "So Sure"'s instrumentation is what Barry White would have used if he had been Jamaican with a nice piano and organ, and the parts where Paul St.Hilaire lowers his voice by what sounds like a few octaves only emphasizes that feeling. "Road" is a nice thanks & praises tune, with a saxophone and guitar spicing up the minimalistic dub under Paul St.Hilaire's silky voice. "Custody" not only has a backing that immediately makes you think of the early Bob Marley & the Wailers, at times in this song Paul St.Hilaire's voice resembles that of the young Bob Marley. "Senza" is using a more dubbed up version of the same riddim for some sensi-lyrics that are dubbed in and out of the mix, very Rhythm & Sound like. "Drifting" is also featuring heavily dubbed up vocals on a catchy dub riddim. The last tune "Changerine" is an experimental tune, that you would expect to be on a downtempo/nu-dub album rather than on a reggae album, but it fits in the whole atmosphere, and is indeed a very strong spoken word nu-dub track, that deserves as much to be heard as all selections on this strong album. For an interview with Paul St.Hilaire in which he shows to be influenced in answering questions as well by Rhythm & Sound's Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, click here. And although I think it's a pity not to use (more of) the full length of a CD, on the other hand, if you don't use all the space available, but at least fill the part you use with such excellent tunes as this album, who am I not too heartically recommend this album to everyone liking 70s dub, Earl 16 and Bim Sherman's vocal style, or 'just' good reggae.