While dub music is often viewed as the refuge of the permastoned, the sort of lighter and more intelligent, melodic dub/chill crossover can, when done right, be extremely rewarding.
International Observer’s brand of auditory delight is dubby, with a playful movement of sounds and grooves that’s…. well, it’s satisfying.
The central melody of Lampedusa stays with you for what seems like forever; you’ll find yourself humming it as you do the washing up (or weigh up pounds of hashish, murder children, whatever you lot do these days.) The melodies are luxuriously simple — they wash over you, intricacy melded with deft production and a hugely warm, magnetic feel.
Straight down-the-middledub is taken care of well. Mudsharkis wonderfully produced and arranged, with sounds coming alive and morphing all around the room, while Rose Madder takes rootsy melodica and detunes it to create a brilliantly lazy track that sounds like an exhausted dog looking for somewhere to lie down and take a nap. In a good way.
The album is bracketed by a concept, and that concept (I’m going to just come out and say it) is a dub cover of The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun. I’ve never got on well with the original track, and a dub cover just seems… well, a but unecessary. The closing track Abode Of The Setting Moon makes better use of the original’s flow and patterns, and adds a glossily cinematic sheen and as such is something you will probably find more socially acceptable than the opening straight cover version.
So. Dub and the permastoned. Not any more, or at least not on this CD. There’s a lot of depth here and the album stacks up well to repeat listening having been on heavy rotation at Psyreviews Acres in recent weeks. If you’re well into your dub then you probably already have this; if you’re well into your Shpongle and nothing else then you might find it a bit un-Shanti and McKenna-deprived; everyone else form an orderly queue, and prepare to appreciate.