Jamaica

One Fine Dub = Sly & Robbie + Brinsley Forde

Hello,

long time no post anything. I’m not going to try and hide behind shallow excuses like I’ve been swamped or anything of that nature. Truth be told, I just let this blog slip out of my mind.

 

I am in no mood to write a long piece today, I just would like to show the world what the cover of ONE FINE DUB is going to look like. One Fine Dub is the Groucho Smykle-mixed dub companion to Sly & Robbie + Brinsley Forde’s “One Fine Day” album, which will come out some time in early 2017. Why the dub album BEFORE the vocal album, you might ask???? First of all, why not? More seriously, it is because I’m an asshole perfectionist and I want the mix of the vocal album needs to be hard, heavy and frightening in a sense. And have a JAMAICAN sound. So, as soon as Robbie is back in Jamaica, Steven Stanley and him are going to get on the case…

 

Robbie has so much on his plate work-wise right now that it may take a while before the thing is finalized… As a result, it may be the first time that a dub album will be released BEFORE the vocal album! But more on that brand new dub album shortly… Remember, today, I wanna talk about the artwork, and nothing but the artwork.

 

A couple of years ago, after I released Dubrising, I got really interested in video games graphic artists and thought I’d love to explore this area further. I found this guy Joseph Gloria Chapalys and fell in love with his stuff, some which you can check at https://www.artstation.com/artist/Kairo

 

We met and hit it off right away. The dude is awesomely gifted and professional unlike others in his field that consider themselves as artists and act like what they think artists should (ie: being real douche bags and late and fucked up). To make a long story short, I commissioned the illustration below as a first step of what I hope will be a long collaboration with TABOU1. The lettering and so forth will be refined.

 

So the front will look like this:

 

Sly and Rob cover 2

 

while the back, where the tracklist, credits, logos, etc… will appear, will look something like that, but better and more professional as I just did a quick and dirty lettering job myself using the toolbox of the Preview application on my Mac which obviously is not as powerful as professional software…

 

Sly and Rob back copy.

 

I know I know this doesn’t look like a Reggae or a Dub album. That is PRECISELY why I like it. I haven’t been a huge fan of the ites green and gold color code in many many years, quite frankly. I kinda like how angular and aggressive these graphics are.

 

So there you have it, I hope you like it. Feel free to drop comments, questions or what not, I’ll gladly answer.

 

Until then stay away from dubstep and other electronic music monstrosities!!! Dub IS NOT EDM (and vice versa). Roots music crafted by real musicians, preferably recorded live in the studio, is the way.

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Dubrising – Sly & Robbie (English version)

tabou1  is happy to announce the upcoming release of “Dubrising”, Sly & Robbie’s new album.

 

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.

 

Track list

 

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”).

 

https://tabou1records.wordpress.com/

https://taxitabou1.bandcamp.com/

http://taxi.bigcartel.com/

 

DUBRISING 30X30

 

DUBRISING – Sly & Robbie – Novembre 2014 (in French)

DUBRISING 30X30

tabou1 est heureux de présenter “DUBRISING”, le nouvel album de Sly & Robbie dont voici des extraits

Pour ce projet, il a été fait appel au génial ingénieur du son Paul “Groucho” Smykle, qui avait mixé entre autres “Raiders of the lost dub” et “Dub Experience” de Sly & Robbie, “Dub Factor” de Black Uhuru et bien sûr “Ini Kamoze”. Groucho n’avait pas travaillé avec Sly & Robbie depuis près de 30 ans et le retrouver, puis le persuader de travailler sur ce projet a été une aventure en elle-même…

Apres s’être convaincu du bien fondé artistique du projet et discuté longuement avec Robbie et Sly, Groucho a sélectionné 12 titres de Horace Andy, Chezidek, Khalifa et Bunny Rugs que j’avais produits depuis 2006 lors de sessions “live” avec Sly & Robbie aux studios Harry J et Anchor à Kingston. Ultra perfectionniste et producteur dans l’âme, Groucho a demandé des overdubs à Dan Donovan, qui avait réalisé les synthétiseurs de Big Audio Dynamite. De même, Bunny McKenzie a été sollicité pour des parties d’harmonica. Ces additions procurent à l’ensemble une bien meilleure cohérence à l’album et lui confèrent son atmosphère propre, en un mot son identité.

Nous avons décidé de mixer le disque à l’ancienne, c’est à dire en live sur une table de mixage non reliée à la station pro Tools de Groucho, et donc sans possibilité de retoucher les mixes sur ordinateur. Bien entendu, ce genre de travail sans filet n’est possible que si les sons ont été soigneusement mis au point auparavant. Pour chaque titre, Groucho a passé environ un jour à peaufiner ses réglages et ses effets, qui relèvent du secret de fabrication! Le travail sur la caisse claire de Sly est en particulier de toute beauté, tout comme le choix des delays et des reverbs.

Le résultat est somptueux: un son lourd mais soyeux, qui passe parfaitement sur tout appareil de reproduction sonore, que ce soit un iPod avec petits écouteurs une chaine hifi pour audiophile, ou encore un sound system où il mettra minables des mixes beaucoup plus durs et ultra compressés qui confondent niveau sonore avec qualité sonore…

A cet égard, dans un premier temps, il a été décidé de sortir “Dubrising” uniquement en vinyl pendant 6 mois avant la sortie en digital (mais uniquement dans les sites qui vendent des fichiers haute résolution). Pourquoi donc ce qui équivaut pour beaucoup à un suicide commercial? Tout simplement, comme le dit la publicité, parce que les clients le valent bien. En effet, le vinyl est synonyme de qualité sonore, et sa chaleur correspond tout à fait à celle de “Dubrising”. Cette démarche relève également d’une forme de militantisme pro-vinyl et anti nivellement par le bas.

Un vinyl sonne bien si son mastering est réalisé par un expert. Le mastering d’un vinyl diffère de celui d’un CD ou d’un fichier Wav car il faut éliminer certaines fréquences afin que la gravure de la matrice soit réalisée de manière optimale, sans “sautes” ou “ronflement”. C’est tout un art. Pour cette mission, j’ai sollicité les services de Bruno Sourice, qui travaille avec des équipements analogiques à tubes d’un autre âge et utilise très peu la compression. Le travail de Groucho était tellement bien réalisé, parfaitement équilibré, sans pics avec un niveau sonore très éloigné des zones de saturation, que le mastering a été une partie de plaisir. Ca change!

Ne faisant jamais les choses à moitié, j’ai décidé de faire presser l’album chez Optimal en Allemagne, qui bénéficie d’une réputation de qualité pour ses pressages que seuls un Japonais et deux Américains partagent.

L’album sortira en édition 33t sur du vinyl 150g. Comme il dure 36 minutes, la durée de 18 minutes par face permet de graver des sillons amples et profonds, ce qui donnera une sonorité superbe.

Pour les audiophiles, une édition limitée est prévue. Il s’agit d’un double maxi 45t pressé sur vinyl de 180g. S’attendre à quelques tremblements de terre!

Enfin, pour les maniaques et les amis, j’ai demande à Jacques Golub de GRAVER 25 exemplaires de l’album sur un double maxi 45t épais de 2 millimètres. Les disques gravés sur vinyl (par opposition aux disques pressés) sont rares en raison de leur prix (lié au fait qu’ils sont graves un par un en vitesse réelle alors que le pressage est beaucoup plus rapide), de la difficulté de cette technique de fabrication, qui relève quasiment de l’artisanat et qu’on utilise d’ailleurs pour graver les acétates utilisées par les sound systems. Mais alors, le son, le son, mes amis! Une claque. Jacques choisi d’utiliser des diamants plutôt que des saphirs pour optimiser encore plus la gravure. La gravure permet d’atteindre des niveaux de +15 décibels par rapport au vinyl classique, et ce sans aucune distorsion bien entendu. La pureté du son original est mieux préservée que sur un disque pressé car le disque pressé est une 5eme génération (la 1ere génération est la bande qui sort du studio de mastering, la 2eme un acétate, la 3eme une matrice, la 4eme la plaque qui sert au pressage et qui s’use au fur et à mesure de son utilisation) alors que les disques gravés sont directement issus de la bande qui sort du studio de mastering.

La pochette est l’œuvre de l’illustrateur de jeux vidéo et de bandes dessinées Kuang Hong. Ses scènes de science fiction post catastrophe nucléaire correspondent bien à des atmosphères dub. Toujours dans un souci de qualité et pour renforce le coté objet de luxe de cet album, la pochette est un “gatefold” imprimé sur du carton de 350g, beaucoup plus lourd et rigide que le carton utilisé normalement (300g).

Tracklist

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

Titres originaux – 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

Ce disque est dédié à la mémoire de Bunny Rugs, Gregory Isaacs et Radgy Tamby (le TA de TABOU1).