Mighty Fat Records are one of the best kept secrets around at the moment. From their outset, their manifesto was to add some cerebral qualities to downtempo music, avoiding cliché and satisfying their own cravings for dub, jazz and freeform electronica and this time round, they’re putting the emphasis firmly on dub and reggae with some wonderful results.
The opener, as openers go, is pretty bloody special. Grey Area’s Swing 44 is one of his more emotive, absorbing tracks and it succeeds in setting the standard for the rest of the album (albeit with mixed results, as we’ll see later.) Even the very first chimes of the track make you glad you introduced the CD to your ears; it’s as though your stereo is thanking you.
The Nun Project’s Sofa Theory is pleasant: a band-like, jazzy feel with live instrumentation that works well, despite getting bogged down in repetitive playing now and again. Larox feat Daddy Colonel’s Until is radio-friendly sunshine reggae, with intricate and competent vocals over a smooth, lax backing.
Skizzo Franick feat Noah Reen’s World Is On Fire is bloody good stuff. Deep dub mixes with flecks of rootsy vocals, with illegal sub-bass and a discernable shift between a background paranoia and sheer-groove goodness. Meanwhile The Okada Supersound could be one of psyreviews’ new favourites, with Dub That Reason treading the boards deftly between quality sunshine dub and conscious roots. More please.
I was also impressed by King’s Step by New Wave feat Pato Banton; I’m not quite sure whether Banton’s lyrics were found to be homophobic a few years ago (and perhaps someone can set me straight), but the rhyming and rhythm that’s natural in his voice is something quite impressive here.
So far, so good. And then we get this insulting mishmash of noises from Kukan Dub Lagan. Tristano Beat opens with some random tabla hits and percussive noises, before picking up some whistles and vaguely bhangra/2-step synth sounds. Add a crap keyboard doing crap cod-reggae vamps (that incidentally goes on all through the track), and a shithouse brass stab sound that only a (deaf) mother could love and a complete lack of direction…. This really is pitiful, pitiful music.
I know a lot of people out there like this guy’s music, all I can say is that if you do you have something wrong with you. None of his output has impressed me in the slightest, but none so far has been quite as bad as this. If you have this CD – which by and large I think you should probably get if you like a bit of reggae – cue it up so that after Tristano Beat you go straight to track one, the Grey Area one.Grey Area is an artist, Kukan Dub Lagan isn’t even a producer.
Moving swiftly on (without forgetting to remove in its entirety that last track from my iTunes), Kalabi do nicely with Tommy Two Pints, sounding strangely Bristol in its mishmash of drones, delays and live reggae-fused hiphop, a bit like a post-apocalyptic Skatalites. Jellybass’ Odd Socks meanwhile has, well a bassline that sounds like Jelly and it’s all joyously good fun, even if the production sounds a little flat.
I’m intrigued by The Nebyudelic Sound System Meets Professor Yaffle’s Son Of A Hermit – it sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard. The vocals are like a higher-pitched Ian Brown, and the instrumentation sounds like a spacier, slower Polyphonic Spree. It is utterly, utterly mesmerising. I want more.
Closing the album are three competent dubs: The Nun Project’s Jerusalem Dub is absorbing if not entirely compelling, The Nomad’s Cific Dub pushes more bass out of my system than I ever thought possible, and Flashbaxx’s Lights Off which does more or less what it says on the tin.
In short, I love this. It’s a reggae album with some flecks of chill, and for the most part is blissfully devoid of psychedelic swirls and tickles. Skip that dreadful bit of Kukan – which in the scheme of things sticks out like Chewbacca at a spelling bee – and you could be on your way to a bit of a classic.