Dreadlock Tales are a dub/reggae collective from Finland, and SunchroniCity is an album that’s loosely got something to do with Mayan somethings, or something. I know this because there’s 13 tracks, called “moons” on the back of the CD, and some Mayan temples on the cover art.
The blurb says that when Dreadlock Tales formed in 1999, they were averse to any kind of electronic instrument. Since that time, they’ve evolved more in the technophilic direction and SynchroniCity consists of five songs with just organic instruments, and 8 involving electronic processes as well.
It’s not easy to tell which are which. The tracks lack a lot of direction, lack a lot of purpose. One thing that keeps rearing its head here is the lack of subtlety: yes, the sounds come in and move around and get loud, but that’s all they tend to do. There is a lot of repetition here, and the repetition itself isn’t often of anything that’s musically interesting or significant.
Carelia Dub is a case in point: it’s a very simple bit of digidub that pumps out the 4-4 while a series of melodies come in and repeat themselves until you skip on to the next track. Meanwhile the title track picks up a lot of energy and pace quickly, yet doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and She Has A Soul Of Fire is a dreadful piece of sub-par Sitar playing and unimaginative guitarwork.
The only truly mesmerising bits are the post-long-intro fluid dub of Level Stepper, the Floyd-esque psychedelic trifle of Kalewater, and the vocal-led Bush In Paper. All moments that are too few and far between.
Dreadlock Tales recognise that dub is all about bass, space and movement but so little freedom has been allocated to the music that it sounds strained. They’re not sure whether they should be exercising their electronic brains, or doing the old-fashioned ‘band’ thing.
It’s all perhaps best epitomised by Analog Vs. Digital: there’s a lot of potential here, but there seem to be blockages holding it back. This crisis of identity, coupled with floppy arrangements and largely directionless arrangements make this one quite an awkward proposition.