Here are sound samples
On this project, I asked legendary sound wizard Paul “Groucho” Smykle, who mixed dub masterpieces like Sly & Robbie’s “Raiders of the lost dub” and “Dub Experience”, Black Uhuru’s “Dub Factor” and the ground breaking “Ini Kamoze”. Groucho had not worked with Sly & Robbie in nearly 30 years…
After making sure the project made sense from an artistic standpoint and talking it over at length with Robbie and Sly, Groucho picked 12 tracks from sessions with Horace Andy, Chezidek, Bunny Rugs and Khalifa that I had produced with Sly & Robbie between 2006 and 2012. The instrumental parts had been recorded live at Harry J and Anchor studios in Kingston. Ever the perfectionist, Groucho asked Dan Donovan (of Big Audio Dynamite fame) to lay down splendid synthesizer overdubs and Bunny McKenzie to add dread harmonica parts. These additions provide a more coherent atmosphere and give “Dubrising” its own soul.
We decided to mix the album the old school way: live on a soundboard without any link to a Protools station. Working without a safety net is possible only if things are prepared well in advance. Groucho spends roughly a full day setting things up, from sound to effects and nobody is allowed to spy on the man! Whatever he does, the end result is stunning snare sounds, awesome reverb and delay choices, etc…
The result is sumptuous: the sound is heavy as uranium yet warm and silky smooth. It can delight any user on any system, from an mp3 player with small ear buds, to an audiophile stereo with gazillion dollar speakers, and of course, what’s probably the most important for Jamaican music, the sound systems. Refusing to enter the loudness war and arms race, “Dubrising” nonetheless blows away other ultra compressed, harsh tunes that, unfortunately, are increasingly the norm in today’s sound systems.
“Dubrising” will be released first in a vinyl-only format. I was asked: Why commit financial suicide and not go the mass market MP3 route??? Simply because it’s worth it from an artistic and sonic standpoint to sometimes go a less trodden (and more elitist I daresay) path. Vinyl is synonymous with a certain sound quality, warmth, and I love the nostalgia aspect of it too. I mean, taking out a record of its cover, then from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable, dropping the needle and after a few seconds of surface noise, hearing, being immersed in beautiful sounds coming out of the speakers is a highly pleasurable experience. It takes time and some effort to play records, but like a fine wine, it’s a relaxing moment during which one can enjoy a piece of art without being rushed or bullied by technology, a screen or some other nerve wracking stimulus. It’s a sensual moment of rest, quiet enjoyment that gets us closer to the sublime and the divine. Last, a vinyl-only release is a pro-vinyl militant act, a stand against the lowest common denominator attitude of record companies and too many people towards music.
Fret not, digital lovers: “Dubrising” will eventually be available in a digital format. First on our bandcamp page https://taxitabou1.bandcamp.com/ in high resolution 24 bit wav and flac files, then on online stores selling wav/flac files and last on the audio file supermarkets used by zillions of customers.
A vinyl record will sound great only if the mastering is done right. Mastering for vinyl is very different and requires quite different skills than for a CD or a digital release. Certain frequencies have to be treated so that the engraving needle doesn’t jump or create a rumbling noise. For this mission, I’ve called on mastering expert Bruno Sourice. He works with analog equipment, tube stuff only, and uses compression very, very sparingly, if at all. Given how well Groucho’s work was put together (perfect balance, sound levels very far from saturation and peak levels…) the mastering phase was pure joy, for a change!
To press the records, I selected Optimal, from Germany. They rank among the world’s top pressing plants, along with a Japanese working quasi exclusively for classical audiophile releases and a couple of American plants.
“Dubrising” will be released in two formats. The 33 RPM edition will be pressed on 150 vinyl. Because the album is 36 minutes long, the two sides last 18 minutes or so each, allowing for ample space for the grooves and thus producing a very nice, “phat” sound. For the audiophiles and collectors, a limited edition will consist of a double 45RPM pressed on 12″ 180g vinyl. Expect this to shake things up when playing loud!
And for the truly maniacal audiophiles, a few select sound systems and friends, I have commissioned Jacques Golub to make 25 hand lathe cut double disco 45’s. He is lathe cutting them one by one, at 1x speed on 2 millimeter thick records. Compared to pressed records (the regular technology everyone over 40 is familiar with), lathe cut records are far more expensive, due to the time required to manufacture them, the price of virgin records, etc… This manufacturing process is far more complicated and is more art than science. Jacques is one of the rare experts on the planet, he bought his own machine and his quality is top notch. He also runs the very nice Kingston Connexion label, by the way. On “Dubrising” he has decided to use diamond needles rather than sapphire needles to obtain deeper and better-defined grooves. The sound is spectacular and this technique enables a sound level clocking at 15 decibels higher than pressed records. The purity of the original master is nearly absolutely maintained, as the vinyl is cut directly from the mastered tape. By comparison, pressed records are 5th generation sound reproductions: 1st generation is mastered tape, 2d generation is the acetate, 3d generation is the master plate, 4th generation is the mother plate or the stamper… (I may be missing a step or two, by the way…)
Video game and cartoon illustrator Kuang Hong made the album artwork. His paintings of post nuclear war scenes fit really well with “Dubrising’s” atmosphere.
To further enhance the quality of the whole thing, packaging is a gatefold printed on super heavy 350 gram board that feels ultra rigid.
1 Satan Fall
2 Freedom Ring
3 Drone Snipers
4 Bully Tactics
5 To The Rescue
6 No Surrender
7 Flame Thrower
8 Double Agent
Original tracks – Artiste – Album
1 Zion Gate – Horace Andy – Livin’ it up
2 Accused – Khalifa – G.Riot 2013
3 Rastafari Prophecy – Horace Andy – Livin’ it up
4 Devil You Can’t Bully Me Out – Chezidek – I Grade
5 Holy Mount Zion – Horace Andy – Livin’ it up
6 Surrender – Chezidek – I Grade
7 King Of Kings – Horace Andy – Livin’ it up
8 Rumours – Bunny Rugs – inédit
This record is livicated to the memory of Bunny Rugs, Gregory Isaacs and Radgy Tamby (the “TA” in “TABOU1”).