Our Daily Bread 297: Dub Colossus ‘Dr. Strangedub (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Dub The Bomb)’

January 28, 2019

Album Review: Dominic Valvona

Dub Colossus ‘Dr. Strangedub (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Dub The Bomb)’
(Echomaster) 20th January 2019

Galvanized by political turmoil and the shambolic progress of Brexit, polygenesis visionary Nick Dubulah revives two of his most successful world music troupes, Dub Colossus and Transglobal Underground, in the pivotal year of Britain’s exit from the European Union. Spending the last few years watching from the sidelines, convalescing from cancer treatment and an operation, Nick’s not only in good health but raring to go with a schedule of live performances and records.

For the first time since 1996 he will be appearing once more with a full Transglobal line-up; bringing back the international traversing group he formed in 1990, leaving seven years later to start-up the congruous Temple Of Sound, but dedicated since the mid noughties to the amorphous soundsystem echoing Dub Colossus. Both groups found favour in the world music and electronic scenes: the Transglobal famously featuring the alluring exotic tones of Natacha Atlas, and the Colossus rotating a singing circle of various toasters and East African sirens.

Off the back of this shared new album of originals and remixed versions of tracks from the 2014 championed Colossus LP, Addis To Omega (his first album for the Echomaster label; one of a trio of albums released under this moniker), Nick will bring together a stellar cast of vocalists and instrumentalists, as he takes both bands out on the road in 2019.

With barely controlled indignation and countless allusions, references in song titles and lyrics alike, Nick and his guests make it obvious which divisive side of the Brexit fence they stand. Framing Kubrick’s satirical dark comedy, with its all too serious consequences of mutual assured nuclear destruction, with the UK’s referendum decision to leave the EU, the pun-tastic Dr. Strangedub (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Dub The Bomb) takes aim at all the main players in this debacle. Sounding like an exasperated schoolmistress taking charge of an unruly brattish battle-bus of immature public school boy politicians, one of the many guests on this album, the burlesque star Immodesty Blaise, contemptuously brings into line Boris and Farage on a magical mystery coach tour over a cliff edge ‘Tainted Dub’ (the ‘Brexitbus Mix’ no less). PJ Higgins meanwhile, accompanied by the evocative pining hues of the deft Polish mandolin player Bolesław Usarzewski, gives David Cameron a deserved kicking on ‘Family Man Dub’.

Though Brexit preys on the mind, the album is also inspired by the exotic; both wandering and dreamily vaporous, roaming the Patagonia and African landscapes. A mirage of the first is imagined on the Lee Scratch Perry at languid ease, love song ‘Whole Lotta Dub’ (about as far removed from the Nordic demi-rock-god cock-swinging Led Zep version that you can get), and the latter, is evoked by the reggae moonwalk, Orb meets Kubrick, title track, which pays a special paean to the featured vocalist Sintayehu Zenebe Ethiopian homeland.

Other guests and musical soirees include Nick’s foil on the brilliant 2015 ‘post-Troika Hellenic Trance music’ project Xaos, Ahetas, playing subtle pace-y drone microtonal keyboards on the metallic searing ‘A World Without Dub’; the evocative throat singing of YAT KHA vocalist Tuvan Albert Kuvezin on the Mongolian cosmic plains ‘clubdub mix’ of an Addis To Omega track, ‘A Voice Has Power’; and a sauntering touch of Cuba, on another Addis treatment, ‘A Spy In The House Of Dub’.

Drenched in a dubtasim of effects, with voices and instruments and sounds resonating and reverbing incessantly, Dub Colossus ratchet-up their raison d’être; taking the form on both an earthly and cosmological circumnavigation; drifting and wafting, blending and crisscrossing musical borders with ease. Nick announces his return with an expansive dub showcase that reunites old friends and introduces new; a return at a most important time; a voice of protest and alarm that hopes (probably in vain) to stop a calamity.

Words: Dominic Valvona


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