Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: Sound Iration In Dub

UK electronic dub outfit Sound Iration's 1989 album Sound Iration In Dub has been reissued on YearZero as a double CD with booklet, including many previously unreleased tracks.

When it first appeared as a vinyl LP on the WAU! Mr. Modo label, Sound Iration In Dub dropped just as UK club culture was experiencing major sonic and cultural shifts: acid house and rave parties were blossoming and electronic music was revving up into a full-blown phenomenon.

Sound Iration joined a growing army of UK electronic producers who defined a unique new chapter of dub reggae music. Along with Sound Iration groups like The Disciples, Rootsman, Alpha & Omega, Zion Train, Rockers Hi-Fi, Smith & Mighty, Blackamix and Dub Judah  each released dozens of albums and singles in the early '90s, which helped to reinvigorate roots and dub for a new audience.

That audience included both old school reggae fans raised on established artists and soundmen like Jah Shaka, Mad Professor, Fatman Soundsystem, Aswad and Misty In Roots, as well as acid house fans and proto-junglists who had heard some reggae and dub snippets sampled in the rave and breakbeat club tracks of the day. Sound Iration In Dub would be one of the more original and authentic releases the emerging new dub scene had heard to date.

Reggae sound system operator and pirate DJ Nick Manesseh (pictured left) and collaborator/bassist Scruff recorded Sound Iration In Dub in a West London studio between 1986 and 1988. With electronic drum programming, Scruff on bass and synth and mystic melodica riffs floating about, Sound Iration was both musically novel and steeped in the tradition of roots and dub acts like Twinkle Brothers and King Tubby that were popular on British reggae sound systems. But while British reggae music had been made primarily by first and second generation Jamaican immigrants and/or largely Jamaican music influenced, the new dubbers embraced a UK approach.

Sound Iration In Dub was just that -- raw, minimalist dub tracks comprised mostly of looped bass lines, steady computer drum rhythms and echoing shards of piano, synth riffs and sound effects. The sound would later be alternately dubbed UK Steppers and digi-dub owing to the music's four-four kick drum patterns and digital composition.

Sound Iration In Dub opens with the meditative and melodica-saturated "Iration Time," which fades in ceremoniously with mournful piano chords before deep bass notes drop down and anchor the track. "New Style" follows and is the most Shaka-esque number on the album. UK roots dub legend Jah Shaka was known for hypnotic and repetitious bass-lead tunes and "New Style" followed his esteemed blueprint expertly. "Satta Light" hinted at the dub-trip-hop music that would follow a few years later with its pseudo hip-hop drum arrangement, yet it was still heavy UK dub nonetheless. "Revelation Time" is one of the few disappointing tracks on the album with its unconvincing female vocals and standard arrangement.The creative "CTUFB" sounds like material that WAU label founders The Orb would approve of with its spacey effects and four-four drum patterns. The album concludes with "Dub Seal (Part 3)," a galloping track would have suited late-80s reggae singers like Junior Delgado or Colonel Mite.

Disc Two of the Sound Iration In Dub reissue features unreleased, demos and alternate versions. One real gem is "The Storm," which features rainfall samples and a smoky arrangement that wouldn't sound out of place on a Massive Attack album. There's also fantastic first time airings of "Melody Dub," "Nasty Dub" and "Tubby's & Rock 92 Style," potent dub tracks that sound as weighty and dread today. "Charlie Roots" opens with the sound of a synth sub-bass octave drop for good measure -- a statement in itself of the creativity and technology at work. Veteran producer and scribe Kris Needs contributes the album's liner notes.

Read more at Forced Exposure Distribution.
Buy Sound Iration In Dub (2CD) at Juno.
Download at iTunes.
More dub resources at

Listen on Soundcloud:
  Year Zero - Sound Iration In Dub Album by Year Zero

Nick Manesseh Mix:
  MANASSEH Sound Iration DJ Mix by Year Zero