The new album “Dread Times”
Released February 17 on Dubwiser Records
Entering an impressive 3rd decade, Dreadzone, one of the most energetic, exciting and powerful live bands to emerge from the post-rave scene, release a brand new album “Dread Times” on February 17th 2017.
‘Dread Times’ is the band’s 8th studio album and the 3rd release on their own “Dubwiser” label. Their old skool dread sound comes bubbling to the surface on this album and it digs deeper into their dub and reggae roots whilst still keeping the beats fresh and the textures electronic. Conscious lyrics, social ills, matters of the heart and mind merge with 21st century dubwise flavours. The album is an eclectic rolling journey that recalls elements from an illustrious 23 year history while always looking ahead to the next phase.
Alongside core members Greg Dread, who produced this 12 track album, Leo Williams, Chris Compton, reggae vocalist Earl 16 and MC Spee, Dread Times introduces younger blood into the mix with newest member Bazil bringing an edge to the sonic process and Greg’s son Marlon expanding the musical range further. Don Letts also returns with lyrical contributions, as does Lena Cullen on vocals for one track, with 90s ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One guesting on another. Recorded again at Mick Jones’ Bunker Studio, arranged at Dread Central and mixed by fellow founder Tim Bran, this is classic West London Zone with an updated edge. Dread music for an unpredictable world, these are Dread Times.
Pioneered by former members of Big Audio Dynamite (and, by inheritance, carrying forward the heart and soul of The Clash) Dreadzone’s two decade plus career has been championed by the late John Peel, signed to the legendary Creation Records and Virgin before finally securing their independence by founding their own aforementioned Dubwiser record label.
Since their inception in 1993 Dreadzone have steadily been releasing underground storms of albums, progressively bettering, refining and perfecting their own unique and inimitable take on dub – mixed as it is with aspects of dance, sublime guitar riffs, folk roots sentiments and breakbeat bass styles – whilst bringing the party to every club, dancehall and field they’ve shown up at. Always blowing audiences away and steadily earning for themselves the best possible reputation as a live act in the process.
Dreadzone 2017 UK tour dates announced so far:
Fri 10 PONTARDAWE Arts Centre
Sat 11WOLVERHAMPTON Slade Rooms
Fri 17 SHEFFIELD The Plug
Sat 18 GLOUCESTER Guildhall
Sun 19 TUNBRIDGE WELLS The Forum
Thu 23 BRISTOL Fleece
Fri 24 BRIGHTON Concorde 2
Fri 3 POOLE My Kyps
Sat 4 EXETER Phoenix
Fri 17 MALVERN Cube
Sat 18 MILTON KEYNES Craufurd Arms
Fri 24 PLYMOUTH The Hub
Sat 25 SOUTHAMPTON The Brook
Fri 31 NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Sat 1 NEWCASTLE Academy 2
Fri 7 READING SUB 89
Sat 8 CARDIFF Globe
Sat 15 FROME Cheese and Grain
Fri 21 MANCHESTER Band on the Wall
Sat 22 KENDAL Brewery Arts Centre
Sat 29 LONDON Under The Bridge
The new album “Dread Times”
Released February 17 on Dubwiser Records www.dreadzone.com
I’ll Surrender is a modern-day Roots Reggae/Dub 7″ single release from Renegade Connection AKA Gary Asquith (Renegade Soundwave, Rema Rema) & Lee Curtis (Lee Curtis Connection, Flavornaughts, Psyclops Trees).
Rock solid early 1970’s style roots with Gary Asquith’s sparse, succinct vocals on top, this isn’t some throwaway digital retread of past glories, rather it evokes and adds to that great tradition of Channel One/Dennis Brown/ Observer et al. Beautifully crafted, every note on the money and without an ounce of fat. 300-only one-time pressing, comes in a gloss disco bag with the label logo print and colour postcard.
In the mid-1970s reggae and its darker incarnations had an influence on white kids, especially in inner city, multi-cultural neighbourhoods. Sounds and cultures clashed at parties, while police and youths clashed in the streets. Nowhere better to find the cause and effect of how young white punks and black youths of West Indian family origins bonded as disaffected youths against the police and oppression of inner city decay than in West London. From the mid-1970s the angst & spitting aggression of punk rock music and the chilled, laid-back vibe of dub reggae were polar opposite. But they effected a generation of musicians who found perfect solace in both white rock noise and the heavy bottom-end bass vibrations and echo chamber space of dub reggae. The Ruts, Slits and The Clash flirted with fusing these forces with varying degrees of success. But no other group in the late 1970s created a more powerful, mesmorising and powerful music, equal in its white punk angst and deep understanding of dub reggae culture sound than Killing Joke.
Though not originally from Notting Hill, the founding members of Killing Joke met there in 1978. Jeremy ‘Jaz’ Coleman and drummer Paul Ferguson were joined by the two members that helped forge the unique and original post-punk groundbreaking sound of Killing Joke. Kevin ‘Geordie’ Walker stroked his gold Guild guitar effortlessly to make a wailing wall of sound. Whilst Martin ‘Youth’ Glover took bass inspiration, emotion and depth from dub reggae.
In 1979 I bought the first Killing Joke release, Turn To Red 12” EP, by way of an introduction from the legendary, John Peel. It made an immediate and lasting impact on me. The classic self-titled debut album followed the following year and included a slow version of the second single ‘War Dance’ along with timeless songs ‘Requiem’, ‘Change’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’. Both still remain regular favourites played over 30 years later in my home, in my car, at work and on my MP3 player.
After recording a second album, What’s THIS For…! (1981), Youth left Killing Joke, only to return some 27 years later in 2008 after meeting the other original members at a funeral, following the untimely death of replacement bass player, Paul Raven.
Along the way, Youth has produced and remixed a plethora of artists and has become one of the most sort after British record producers. On his travels he also found time to continually produce some amazing dub re-workings of Killing Joke songs; and for the first time ever, Killing Joke are officially releasing a dub album.
Killing Joke In Dub is a 3-CD release scoping Killing Joke’s 35 year back catalogue and on hearing the news of its forthcoming release, was probably the most excited I’ve ever been for such a collection of ‘re-workings’ in my entire life. But anticipation is not always a good thing. It can ultimately lead to disappointment. Nostalgia can be burst with hindsight as time warps our over-inflated memories.
My own interest in Killing Joke waned shortly after the third album, Revelations (1982). So I am unfamiliar with the original recordings of most of the songs collected here; and the only track I had previously heard was ‘a floating leaf always reaches the sea’ remix of Requiem, originally released in 1992 along with the Spiral Tribe mix of ‘Change’ (also included).
Please note: To witness the full force of this album and the quality of these dub plates, the following tracks and indeed the whole album should be heard at full volume through, if possible, the biggest baddest subwoofing motherfucker you can lay your ears on!
Killing Joke – Requiem (A Floating Leaf Always Finds The Sea mix)
CD1 kicks off with the deepest, darkest trance dub of Youth’s ‘This World Hell (Alive & Kicking Dub Remix)’. The drums are clean and crisp in the mix, while the sub-bass throbs like a demented bulldozer, slow and effortless, shaking everything to the ground that dares to cross its path . In my attempt to receive the full impact of what I was about to receive, I turned my stereo volume to max and turned the bass all the way down. Dub reverb filled the room, quickly followed by the first sub-bass warbling of the lowest end that literally blew my cat clean off her paws! Fucking awesome – there’s no other words that will more succinctly describe the shiver that started in the nape of my neck and fizzed the length of my spine.
Killing Joke – This World Hell (Alive & Kicking Dub Remix)
With compilation albums such as this, I normally hear two or three gems and the rest of the album is littered with re-workings that were originally used as 12” fillers at best or standard remixes with formularized lazy beats and drops. But this is Killing Joke and these tracks were produced by Youth!
Two tracks that particularly work for me, are ‘Money Is Not Our God (Babylon Dub)’ (CD1 #2) and ‘This World Hell (Cult Of Youth Ambient Samsara Dub Mix)’ (CD2 #2). Both are very, very heavy.
Killing Joke – Money Is Not Our God (Babylon Dub)
Much of the album is deep and dirty, evidence of Killing Joke’s industrial rock and Youth’s own travels into trance circles are clearly visible even in the more experimental moments. But ‘The Raven King (Never Grow Old, Forever Now Dub)’ offers some lighter relief in an upbeat tribute to the late Paul Raven which errs towards Dreadzone in its more uplifting, commercial sounding summer-hazed dub celebration.
Killing Joke – The Raven King (Never Grow Old, Forever Now Dub)
Killing Joke In Dub is 28 versions, reworking and plain dub mixes by Youth across 3 CDs titled (CD1) Apocalypse Dancehall, (CD2) Rockers Retroactive and the unimaginatively titled (CD3 Bonus Tracks). After countless hours, mainly via good quality headphones I have only encountered two, possibly three tracks I don’t care for. My CD experience is otherwise skip-free, and to be honest, I’m currently finding every else somewhat too light and fluffy, in comparison.
Killing Joke – Tomorrow’s World (Urban Primitive Dub)
Killing Joke In Dub is released on 5th May and is currently occupying #1 in my ‘Best Albums of 2014’ chart.
The Orb are currently amidst a 25 year anniversary UK Tour promoting their current retrospective 4 CD box set, History Of The Future – The Island Years.
It seems almost incomprehensible that it’s now 25 years since Alex Paterson took his first giant steps under the banner of The Orb. Caught in the escalating rush of acid house and armed with dream-realising new technology, Alex, and whoever else was on his flight path at the time, started pumping their inherent sense of mischief into panoramic soundscapes with heavyweight beats, taking the live electronic experience to new levels.
A quarter century later, the world is a much different place after technology progressed further, changing the way music was created and heard as the next century got under way. By then, The Orb had already charted a fearlessly wayward course, while unleashing one of the most uncompromisingly innovative bodies of work of the last century, no sound too extreme or source too cheeky.
This is why we’re gathered here today – to mark The Orb’s Silver Jubilee with a collection of landmarks from their first two decades, plus a bunch of extra treats. When Alex took those first, tentative steps 25 years ago he was in the throes of the second revolution to erupt in his life after punk‘s big bang. Acid house opened up a new form of anarchy, using machines before they were changed to protect the innocent. There was always attitude in the Orb’s ambience, as Alex declared more than once, “we’ve got the same attitude as punk rock.”
After Alex and first Orb partner Jimmy Cauty’s initial dalliances in Cornwall, the first major statement under The Orb name was 1989’s A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Universe, among early releases on Alex and Youth’s W.A.U. Mr Modo label.
Tellingly, this set starts with a high definition declaration of dance floor domination with the thunderous Orbital Dance Mix of the track which appeared on July, 1990’s A Huge Ever Growing Remix EP.
This key track in Orb lore appears here in three different incarnations, also including 1991’s Aubrey Mix Mk II ambient version from 1991’s Aubrey Mixes: The Ultra World Excursions, with crashing waves and clucking chickens lashing the pivotal melody. The live version shows how the track could also be cranked into the ultimate, all-going-off set closer. When it provided their 20 minute Peel session in December, 1989, it became the most requested in the show’s history.
The follow-up, Little Fluffy Clouds, (which started life in Alex’s bedroom at the infamous Coach House he was then sharing with Youth), was created at that magical time when sampling technology offered new oceans of possibilities (which turned into a Pandora‘s Box of litigation as claims rained in after these first innocent flurries of exploration).
1990’s Little Fluffy Clouds kicked off with English country narrative from Face The Facts presenter John Waite before the famous Rickie Lee Jones promo interview snippet which came with her Flying Cowboys album. Demonstrating the unlikely sources which separated the genuinely creative from mindless plagiarism, the beats hail from a Harry Nilsson track, introduced by Ennio Morricone harmonica. Coldcut, who’d been developing their own strain of underground sonic science, are here with their aptly-titled Heavyweight Dub Mix.
Next single from 1991’s Adventures Beyond The Ultra World was psychedelic reggae outing Perpetual Dawn, here heard in its Solar Youth version and the first of Andrew Weatherall’s cataclysmic pair of Ultrabass remixes, underpinned by Jah Wobble‘s chest-rattling bass.
Blue Room itself is a stratospheric epic with long-time mucker Steve Hillage‘s ether-surfing guitar, Miquette Giraudy‘s ghostly synths plus sirens, NASA astronauts and disemboided vocal, again underpinned by Jah Wobble’s inimitable Earth’s core-shaking basslines.
Clocking in at a second below the 40 minute limit imposed by chart compilers Gallop, Blue Room was released as a twelve-inch single on June 8, reaching number eight as the longest single to make the charts. It’s here in three versions – the single edit, live and Excerpt 605 on the rarities disc.
U.F. Orb was unveiled to the media at London’s Planetarium. It came as a shocked but air-punching triumph when the album invaded the charts at number one. It continues its mighty presence on this collection with Majestic and Close Encounters appearing in disc two’s remixes.
Close Encounters showed how The Orb could deliver floor-destroying techno, working with Glasgow titans Stuart MacMillan and Orde Meikle, aka Slam, who‘d recently started their Soma label while running the raging inferno of their Slam club. If the original version was dominated by the astonishingly crowd-levitating groove, disc two’s ambient version brings out myriad other subtleties.
Disc three captures the sonic splendour of the live Orb show around this time, drawn from Trekkoner, Copenhagen and Woodstock 2 in 1993-94, hotwiring singles and album highlights with the spontaneous combustion of the duo‘s live mixing, which meant every gig was different. They were also playing a song called Assassin – 1992’s next single. Originally a fluid slab of astral funk draped in radioactive sonic worms, it became a prime example of an Orb piece spreading its wings live in various directions, appearing here as single edit and in two different live incarnations.
1993 saw angry grey streaks appearing in the little fluffy clouds, manifesting as the dark side of The Orb in mid-1994’s abrasive Pomme Fritz (The Orb’s Little Album), fired by rekindled punk spirit with anger often the energy.
Released in July 1994, Pomme Fritz sparked hostility everywhere from record company to press, although it still made number six in the UK charts (though not this set!).
With slate wiped clean, The Orb could move on and make their under-rated masterpiece Orbus Terrarum. This double-album epic of astonishing complexity, breadth and depth continued Alex’s exploring of a, “collage of noises that had never been heard before in that sort of music”, venturing into avant garde, musique concrete and classical realms, shot with the wildest dub.
With bassist Simon Phillips and percussionist Nick Burton also still around, The Orb set off on the album’s orchestral dub voyages, including the supremely evocative Oxbow Lakes, here in its album version.
Alex could now reflect on “two years of pretty hard labour” which had seen everything change, including record company, management and musical collaborators. There was still pressure to set their controls for the heart of the charts as Orbus Terrarum had just scraped the top 20 while there hadn’t been a huge single, so it came as another surprise when Toxygene reached number four in the singles chart in February, 1997; The Orb’s highest placed single yet. As a result, mothership album Orblivion sold well too.
The hit came with a beautiful slice of Orb-lore. During the ‘90s, The Orb trotted out remixes for a galaxy of artists, from Primal Scream to Robbie Williams, even a U2 knock-back, as Alex stuck to his motto, “you get an Orb track with bits of song on it.” Jean Michel Jarre’s 1977 hit Oxygene was a hugely-influential electronic landmark. To celebrate its 20 year anniversary, the French composer had created a sequel called Oxygene 7-13, The Orb were called to remix Oxygene 8. The composer was not too pleased remarking, “It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I wanted the first wave of remixes to be linked with Oxygene’s theme and textures.’ Alex simply took his remix, retitled it ‘Toxygene’ [after being out-voted on ‘Toxic Genes’] and released it as first single from the album it had just found a home in, a hit in its own right. The single was released in a pink box containing two CDs with mixes inclusing Ganja Kru’s drum ’n’ bass workout (included here).
Orblivion featured a more streamlined Orb with Alex, Thomas and Andy, plus Steve Hillage, Miquette Girady and tour DJ Lewis Keogh. The object of the exercise this time seems to be how much fun they can have bending melodies and beats into new dimensions. After the ambient exploits of the previous two albums, the vibe around Orblivion was that The Orb were back in a funky mood, without trying to lead or start new trends because they’d already done that.
Next single was Asylum, a pulsing electro beast co-written with tour DJ Lewis Keogh, riding a gently squelching riff draped in lazy steel guitar and Detroit techno melody. The track is here in its album version.
After the unfettered creativity of the Orblivion phase and top five success of the single, darker clouds were again gathering again towards the end of the century. Although recorded through 1999, the delightfully multi-hued Cydonia got caught up in internal record label reshufflings, meaning it wasn’t released until 2000. Named after the area of Mars where the Viking space craft photographed a Sphinx-like face, Cydonia remains one of the most diverse and overlooked items in the Orb arsenal.
The core team of Alex, Andy Hughes, Thomas Fehlmann, Simon Phillips and Nick Burton was joined by Fil de Gonidec [another old Killing Joke mucker], Sabrettes’ Nina Walsh and Freaky Realistic singer Aki Omori, who unleashed her sepulchral vocals on a traditional Vietnamese melody for first single, Once More.
Meanwhile, Nina co-wrote and sang some of Alex‘s old lyrics on second single Ghostdancing, whose lustrous, hallucino-sheened future pop inevitably incurred flak for daring to venture near traditional song forms. This was easily dismissed by Alex: “This may be but they were ORB pop songs,“ while adding that, “Ghostdancing is probably one of the best Orb tunes we’ve ever done.” Disc two features the spectral textures of Mark Pritchard’s sumptuously deep remix.
There we have it: all aspects of the Orb in one boxset: the singles which took them to mass success, remixes which kept the underground happy, the kind of live show which blazed a trail for others to take dance music to the stadiums, plus some of the amazing videos which accompanied most of the singles assembled here.
The Orb – History Of The Future: The Island Years
Disc One – The Singles Collection
Disc One – The Singles Collection
01: A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre of the Ultraworld: Loving You – Orbital Dance mix (Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty)
02: Little Fluffy Clouds Single version
03: Perpetual Dawn, Solar Youth mix
04: Blue Room, 7” version
05: Assassin, 7” version (Alex Paterson, Kris Weston and & DJ Lewis)
06: Oxbow Lakes, Album version
07: Asylum, Album version
08: Toxygene, Album version
09: Once More, Album version
10: Ghost Dancing, Album version
Disc Two – Remixes and Rarities
01: A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre of the Ultraworld: Loving You Aubrey Mix Mk II (Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty )
02: Little Fluffy Clouds, Coldcut Heavyweight Dub mix
03: Perpetual Dawn, Andrew Weatherall Ultrabass 1 mix
04: Blue Room, Excerpt 605
05: Majestic, Heavy Mix (The Orb and Youth)
06: Close Encounters, Smile, You’re On Camera mix (The Orb and Slam)
07: Assassin, Another Live mix
08: Toxygene, Ganja Kru mix
09: Once More, Mark Pritchard mix
Disc Three – Live In Copenhagen & Woodstock
01: Towers of Dub, Live @ Trekkoner Sunset Gig, Copenhagen ‘93
02: Little Fluffy Clouds, Live @ Trekkoner Sunset Gig, Copenhagen ‘93
03: Blue Room, Live @ Trekkoner Sunset Gig, Copenhagen ‘93
04: Star 6 & 7 8 9, Live @ Trekkoner Sunset Gig, Copenhagen ‘93
05: Valley, Live @ Trekkoner Sunset Gig, Copenhagen ‘93
06: Assassin, Live at Woodstock 2, USA ‘94
Disc Four – DVD
01: Little Fluffy Clouds, Promotional video
02: Perpetual Dawn, Promotional video
03: Assassin, Promotional video
04: Oxbow Lakes, Promotional video
05: Pomme Fritz, Promotional video
06: Toxygene, Promotional video
07: DJ Asylum, Promotional video
08: Once More, Promotional video
09: Blue Room, Top Of The Pops ‘92
10: Toxygene, Top Of The Pops ‘97
11: Little Fluffy Clouds, Live from T In The Park
12: Perpetual Dawn, 10” TV advert
The Orb – 25 Anniversary UK Tour Dates
6th Nov Gloucester, Guildhall
8th Nov Bridport, Electric Palace
9th Nov Nottingham, Marcus Garvey Centre
10th Nov Holmfirth, Picturedrome
13th Nov Exeter, Pheonix
14th Nov Bournemouth, Old Firestation
15th Nov Hebden Bridge, Traders
16th Nov Dublin, Button Factory
17th Nov Buckley, Tivoli Venue
24th Nov Cambridge, Corn Exchange
Advertised as the only reggae & dub festival with camping, One Love relocated this year to the Hop Farm in Kent. No longer will a working farm, in recent years it has played host to several annual festivals and concerts including the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young & in September hosts A Day Out with Leonard Cohen. But last weekend saw a host of artists, djs & the author of Rastamouse descend of the Garden of Kent for two-and-a-half days of reggae and dub with a twist of dancehall, jungle, drum n bass and dubstep thrown in for good measure.
The festival consisted of a main stage, aptly named the One Love stage, three main DJ tents – the Dub Shack, Lively Up & a third that was hosted by Jamaica’s famous Saxon Sound System. There was also a film tent and a VIP building that unfortunately never got going due to a lack of crowd participation. In fact the whole festival appeared to suffer from a poor attendance. Whether hit by a final weekend of the London Olympics hysteria, a victim of the current economic climate or more likely, a direct clash with a month of London concerts to celebrate 50th of Jamaican independence. Whatever the reason for the light crowd, those that had bought tickets or turned up on the day was in for a glorious weekend of sunshine and chilled vibes at the friendliest festival I have ever been.
When Rastamouse was added to the line up, I genuinely expected an actor in a 6ft fancy dress costume to turn up, sign books & have his photo taken with the festival kids that had assembled. I wonder how disappointed they were to be introduced to the author who invited them to read exerts from his books! At that point I was pleased a friend and her five year old daughter was unable to attend. That would have put a cat amongst the pigeons. As it was, I quickly got over my disappointment and along with my son and a couple of competition winners headed to the Dub Shack to sample some heavy, heavy dub sounds…. and the Red Stripe, of course!
Everything seemed to come together on the Sunday for me. The Stints, Dawn Penn & the legendary Tappa Zukie on the main stage, Don Letts played some heavy sounds in the Dub Shack and what seemed like a whole day of jungle in the Lively Up Tent peaked when Nicky Blackmarket pushed everything up to 11 for an awesome set of the hardest, fastest, most aggressive jungle music I had ever heard. Whilst the tent was steaming crazy with arms and legs flailing in every direction I was serenely asked by a woman if I would like some ‘K’. I smiled and said ‘no thanks’ which was enough to get a respectful ‘lion paw’. I couldn’t see how that drug and this music would ever be further apart!
The Saxon Sound System tent played a good mix of crowd-pleasing tunes which erred towards dancehall and lovers rock. Whenever I ventured in, there was always a good vibe. A blonde-haired middle-aged man skipped and danced his way around the whole tent, in and out of the gathering for hours (god knows what he was drinking!).
There was a good mix of male and female, black and white, young and old; and I can honestly say, the festival lived up to its name – One Love. It was the friendliest, chilled music festival I have ever been too.