Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Dub Reel: Dennis Bovell Makes It Run

On July 9, UK label Pressure Sounds will release a retrospective of dub recordings made between 1978 and 1986 by British producer, arranger and bassist Dennis Bovell. Bovell was a member of the London reggae outfit Matumbi, has backed and arranged music for noted dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and collaborated with other pop and reggae artists.

This new archival release, Mek It Run, was remastered at dub producer the Mad Professor's Ariwa studio. The set includes covers of classic Jamaican riddims, rootsy Bovell originals ("Cross To Bear") and even a dub featuring JA toaster I-Roy ("Burden").  Bovell used Ariwa's outboard effects to give the remastered tracks a crisp but subtle update. From the press notes: 

Down in [Bovell's] musical lock-up lay a stack of boxes containing old 2 inch multi-track analogue master tapes, some dating back to the late seventies; this gave Dennis the idea of returning to unfinished works. He selected some likely looking titles that had never had dub treatment and arranged some time in Neil Fraser’s (the Mad Professor) studio, as he knew the Prof had every gadget under the sun. There he “baked” tapes ready for digital conversion via an Alesis HD24 a 24 track, 48kHz hard disk recorder, rescuing the sounds from the inevitable oxidization process that comes with age. At the mixing end Dennis utilizes a whole range of outboard gear from old analogue to the latest digital sets, explaining the unique and end sounds of the dubs presented on the album.
Bovell will back his long-time collaborator Linton Kwesi Johnson in a rare US live appearance on June 23 at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Boonville, CA. Read an in-depth interview with LKJ about his career and the Nor Cal show in SF Gate.