The Riddim Machine
Dreadsquad & Various
March 3, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Early 2012 kicks off with yet a new release from Polish producer/DJ duo Dreadsquad, consisting of Marek Bogdanski and Lukasz Rodziewicz, entitled "The Riddim Machine". Since they started their Dreadsquad project at the beginning of the new millennium, the duo has released self-produced mixtapes, albums and singles featuring original tracks as well as remixes from Polish artists and also international artists from countries like Germany, France, England, the US, and Jamaica.
This well varied 16-track compilation set covers an array of genres rooted in the history of Jamaican popular music, ranging from old skool Ska to the digital computerized style of the '80s and from heavy electronic Dub to rootsy Rock Steady. It's German veteran Dr. Ring Ding who gets things started in great style with an infectious Ska tune called "Old's Cool" (a nice word-play). The riddim, played by real musicians, sounds fresh and energetic, and instantly urges you to put on your dancing shoes. The tempo slows down for the solid "Hear Me Now Jah People" by veteran deejay U Brown, bringing back memories from the sound system days in the late '70s / early '80s. Singjay Blackout JA, whose vocal style reminds us of Buju Banton, delivers an entertaining conscious effort worth hearing. All in all these three tunes are pure niceness, and raise expectations for things to come next.
Totally unknown to us, but after one listen already one of our favourite female singers, is Kasia Malenda, who seems to be Poland's answer to Adele and Amy Winehouse. What a voice!! Her song "Soulfly", underpinned by a mesmerizing riddim, is an outstanding effort. A big tune with hit potential!! Less exciting is another female vocalist featured here, UK based Lady Chann. Her ska-fueled "Money Ah Dem God" is a nice effort, but nothing special. Jamaican artist Perfect, who delivers a solid soundbwoy tune across the "Sleng Teng International" riddim, heads a segment of the compilation that is dominated by heavy bass lines and electronic sounds. Kenny Knots, whose "Living For Tomorrow" comes next, delivers a fine piece, while El Fata's "Sweet & Nice" over the brand new "MT-41" riddim (reminiscent of the "Sleng Teng International") is also nice to hear. We're halfway the compilation and have not been disappointed once.
Also the rest of this collection turns out to be worthwhile hearing. The Dreadsquad RMX of "International Currency" by Kush Arora feat. Jahdan Blakkamoore needs several spins before it starts to grow on you. This isn't the case with Skarra Mucci, Mandinka Warrior & Alex Hudson's "Me Want", which comes on a riddim that reminds of the "Stalag" and thus instantly draws attention. Ward 21's "Jump & Skip" on the "Question?" riddim, actually a remake of Studio One's much versioned "Never Let Go" aka "Answer" riddim, makes a good impression. Tenor Fly is present with the feel good tune "Sweet Thing". Nice, but not much more than that, which also goes for Deadly Hunta's "Oh Mama". This cannot be said about the awesome roots tune "When Jah Call" by Mr Diamond & Fabi Geez, one of the standouts of this set. Mieczyslaw Fogg's "To Ostatnia Niedziela", a dubby reworking of the infamous Polish 'suicide tango' which incorporates the vocals of the original 1936 recording, and Dreadsquad's "Caravan (Radikal Guru RMX)" round off "The Riddim Machine" in a somewhat odd way.
Overall opinion is that this is a thoroughly enjoyable compilation.