Photographer: Nick Page.
Formed by multi-instrumentalist and composer Nick Page -- the man behind the ethno-techno collectives Transglobal Underground and Temple of Sound -- the mighty Dub Colossus features Page and a group of musicians from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, all fusing reggae and traditional African music in a way that's skilful and fills the soul. With two albums in the can, 2008's A Town Called Addis and 2012's Addis Through the Looking Glass, 2013 seems prime time for a remix album, so bring on Dub Me Tender, Vols. 1 & 2, Vol. 1 having been released previously in vinyl form only. This isn't the standard, phone-a-laptop-producer remix effort, it's more a dub mix where Page -- who also goes by Dubulah -- and friends handle the dubbing and bring themselves much closer to the Jamaican side of their Jamaican-Ethiopian mix. Still, the African flavor is here with Massinkos (one-stringed guitars) and Krars (bowl-shaped lyres) fluttering through the bass heavy mix. Intoxicating rhythms drive highlights like "Falling in Dub Again," their cover of the Abyssinians' "Satta Massagana," and the booming title track, and if this isn't the Lee "Scratch" Perry-styled freakout where sound effects ping about the speakers, it satisfies in a Mikey Dread style, where grooves are stretched and musicians are brought to the front to showcase their bass, horn, or Massinko skills. Four new cuts are dropped among the redos, and don't fall for those cheeky titles because cheeky is just what they are, since "Bizarre Dub Triangle" has nothing to do with New Order, and that hot-stepping melody of "It's Friday, I'm in Dub" certainly didn't come from the Cure. Newcomers should also be warned that Dub Colossus' standard albums are the ones to start with, but get hip and then come back here when the taste for a stretchier and stranger version of "Uptown Top Ranking" is acquired. ~ David Jeffries