Jahtari keep going from strength to strength. From humble beginnings as a net label a decade ago they have consistently presented their own vision of what they once coined as Digital Laptop Reggae. Jahtari’ latest release is a double LP from New Zealand digital reggae aficionado Naram T Langford. Naram has been producing digital reggae for the last few years, having been prolific on several Soundcloud groups dedicated to the form. Recently relocating to Melbourne, Naram is also involved with the Echo Chamber soundsystem, one of the new breed of custom built dub soundsystems in town.
March of the Gremlins is a serious slab of 80s inspired digital reggae, carrying on from the best of the era’ productions. Heavyweight riddims are presented in a vocal / dub manner, calling on veteran mike men such as Asher Senator and Peter King, alongside talents Jane Bee, Jah Screechy, Sammy Gold and Speng Bond. Naram has crafted his riddims from a range of vintage 1980s era classic synths prevalent in the productions of the time, such as the Casio MT-40 and the Yamaha CS-01, as well as iPod music apps and more modern music gadgets.
The music sits with the best of the era, bridging nostalgia and futuristic sounds. The vocal cuts are crisp and the lyrics are relevant. This is music from the heart of politics, designed to â€œwreak havoc on the cogs of the Babylon systemâ€. Speng Bond paints a dystopian picture in his gripping Big Brother over the title track riddim. Jahtari co-boss Disrupt massages the versions in his unique style, reinforcing the now strongly developed style that Jahtari has developed over it’s decade long existence.
The whole double LP is filled with enough seriously heavy modern dancehall tunes to satisfy any long time fan of the style, while also being adventurous enough to entice newer listeners who may come to the music though it’s connection via dubstep or other bass heavy contemporary genres. Personal highlights come when Naram slows the tempo with Jane Bee’ heavy debut Conquer Me and the dub Conquer Dem, as well as Sammy Gold’ sufferation anthem Government Are Suck The Sufferer.
The serious overtones are nicely balanced with a sprinkle of humour. As well as references to Joe Dante’ 1984 film Gremlins, the LP feature some weird cover art by Kiki Hitomi (Black Chow, King Midas Sound) featuring some raunchy mogwai’ relaxing before the imminent attack of the Babylon system and the Gremlins, or something.
Anyway, if you have any interest in Aust/NZ bass music, modern dub or Gremlins, be sure to track down a copy of the double LP. A digital release is also available via the Jahtari site, as is their veritable back catalogue of mostly free net-releases. If you are in Melbourne keep your eyes peeled for Echo Chamber sessions, Naram may very well drag along his MT-40 for a live version of the Gizmo Riddim, or even Sleng Teng.