Brooklyn, NYC-based dub / downbeat producer Dub Gabriel certainly managed to make some waves in all the right critical circles with his impressive 2005 debut album ‘Bass Jihad’, with his bass-meets-ragga explorations calling to mind the likes of Rhythm & Sound and Stereotyp whilst receiving plaudits from both the WIRE and XLR8R. Three years on, this follow-up on Gabriel’s own Destroy All Concepts label sees him pretty much picking up the baton directly from where ‘Bass Jihad’ left off, with Dr. Israel, Yo Majesty and Meat Beat Manifesto’s Mark Pistel appearing amongst an impressive guest list on ten tracks that increasingly show the influence of dubstep rising to the surface. ‘Chasing The Paper’ certainly provides a suitably adrenalin-surging opening gambit, with Jahdan’s rich ragga-soul vocals taking things into suitably doomy and apocalyptic territory (â€œfor the money some people will sell anything / for the money some people will kill anything’) over a writhing backdrop of surging sub-bass swells and flickering, off-beat rhythms that highlights the aforementioned Stereotyp comparison.
From there, ‘Spirit Made Flesh’ calls to mind one of Ursula Rucker’s urban beat poet sessions gone spectral dub as her limber vocals tumble out over a lazy, swinging backdrop of lovers’ rock bass, metallic offbeats and vast dubbed-out sweeps, before the digitally-contorted ‘Rundown’ brings the hard-edged hiphop stylings to the fore as No Surrender alternately attack and croon into the mic. While dub / hiphop / dubstep offers up the main part of the menu throughout the ten tracks on offer here, it’s with some of the more unexpected genre digressions here that some of the biggest highlights arrive. ‘La Vie Senvole’ sees Judith Juileratt contributing a breathy vocal performance that calls to mind a Gallic Laurie Anderson as gentle, minimalist electronic rhythms and burbles pulse back and forth amidst harpsichord-like analogue synths, before REM’s Michael Stipe takes the vocal spot for perhaps the most surprising closer of all, a cover of Suicide’s ‘Cheree’ that replaces the original version’s feedback for soaring strings and harp elements – while it’s certainly effective stuff, it manages to call to mind Stipe’s ‘main’ band far more than any of the other tracks on this album. An excellent second album from Dub Gabriel that further cements his status as a producer to keep an eye on.