Danakil ‘Meets OnDubGround’ (Baco) 5/5

An ultra digital yet may I say a lush sounding production with enticing blends of UK Dub & Dubstep, French Dub, New reggae & Electrodub, Hip Hop and Hip Dub delivered by French reggae band Danakil (founded 2001) and French production and dub mix outfit OnDubGround (founded 2004) with vocal duties provided by a host of collaborators featuring both underground and uptown MCs & singers alongside the distinctive vocals of Balik from Danakil. Also starring German singer Patrice, New York resident and MC Jamalski, Miscellaneous & Adam Paris, Nattali Rize, Green Cross (who released an album with OnDubGround back in 2013), Sir Wilson, Flavia Coelho,Brahim, also starring Jamaica’s Anthony B and Joseph Cotton.

So without further ado.. This album immediately intrigued me from the moment I first gave it a spin through a couple of weeks back as I began to namecheck certain underground dub artists in my head whilst listening, artists like Panda Dub, Mayd Hubb, Joe Pilgrim, Golden Galaxies, Robo Bass Hi Fi, Don Fe and many other underground luminaries came to mind as the tunes progressed, the similarities in production and its delivery with the above named artists is uncanny, Well basically this album leans heavily on remixes of past tracks by Danakil with the styles of the remixes submerging original Danakil pieces into the multi sub genre dub underground that OnDubGround are respected members of like the track entitled ’33 Mars’ with it’s Don Goliath style remix vibe (albeit this album produced without the loudness wars in mind as Don Goliath is infamous for) an uptempo stomper with vocals by Joseph Cotton & Danakil’s Balik -this track a remix of Danakil’s ’32 Mars’ from their album ‘La Rue Raisonne’ from a couple of years back and thankfully with this remix version keeping the original guitar hook line at the fore. “A change is gonna come” sings Jamaican veteran Joseph cotton as he guests and indeed it does with next piece ‘Parisian Dub’ which isn’t a dub, it’s a remix featuring German singjay/MC Patrice riding a slow forboding hip hop beat accompanied by ‘lazer lights in a field’ synth hooks and string sections, its original title being ‘Paris la Nuit’ also from long player ‘La Rue Raisonne’ although if it wern’t for the recognisable vocal hooks and a couple of other elements from the orig piece it could be a completely different tune altogether, I would like to say at this point that the word remix perhaps should be changed to ‘reworking of’ with so many replacement elements such as the synths & drum patterns taking the place of the original instruments but in their (the remixes) defence it has to, for the Danakil new reggae/modern roots sound to be able to submerge and blend fuller into this era’s underground vibes.. It also depends on one’s definition of ‘remix’ and on this album one cannot delightfully submerge deeper than to listen to the ultra internet radio friendly piece entitled ‘Nuff Power’ featuring Green Cross, it is at this time that my name checking episode makes a reappearance.. If you really dig the album ‘Rub It Better’ by General Public (circa ’95) then you will adore this tune, a dancehall mover, an uptown groover, nothing is smoother, an uptempo all sexes footapper, seriously it really has a feel good vibe about it. This is an album void of repetitive genre, you will hear many different dub and club sub genres including the electrodub from the wonderful Remix/reworking composition entitled ‘Butterflies’ which does not bare much resemblance to Danakil’s original ‘Papillons’ it has to be said except for a slight hint of vocal recognition (I honestly cannot be sure at this moment) but it is niceness. Panda Dub’s ‘The Lost Ship’ album springs to mind whilst listening to this track.

Another vocal collaborator Sir Wilson frankly shines on the piece entitled ‘Something’ a purist digital steppa complete with those wonderful bass tones & bass manipulation control.
and MC Jamalski equally shines on the piece ‘Tell Dem’ as he delivers crucial patter over a niceness blend of digidub meets modern reggae, a pulsating beat with a serious message.
I cannot help thinking of ‘Witness The Fitness’ by Roots Manuva from way back in time for some reason when I play the track ‘J’attends La Nuit’ featuring Miscellaneous and Adam Paris, it’s not quite as heavy in production as Mr.Manuva yet what a cool ride. An outstanding vocal over a lucious hip hop riddim track, an almost complete different version from the original by Danakil (J’attends le jour from their album La Rue Raisonne) and just as crucial.
The album’s play out piece is entitled ‘World Of Dub’.. Why on earth the auto tune/vocal effects on their voices? Why oh why do people still use it this horrible invention, for this and this alone the album loses a point, Well this album is hovering on a five out of five special at this point in time but that autotune on the voices could be responsible for blowing it.. But then, who am I to dictate what a producer should do, freedom of choice, freedom of expression, yet none the less (and again) a very cool lolloping Roots Manuva vibe.
The bass line on the piece entitled ‘Blowing With The Wind’ is top ranking, although it’s a synth bass programmed in, it has that joy to it, that bass run that hits the belly after travelling up from the floorboards feeling, with its eastern influence prevailing throughout the track. I would love to hear fellow undergrounder and super bass player ‘Yabass’ hook up with this bass line sometime.

Released just a few weeks ago to critical acclaim on Danakil’s own French independent label Baco Records (since 2011) – and a label not worthy of underestimation – this is a radio and club friendly DJ pick n mix affair giving the listener sous sol and commercial uptown sonic pleasure with a track listing on offer that is sure to evoke many a “rewind my selector” from the crowd and ‘false start’ moments during playouts. It is a thriller of an album, no filla.

A prehaps (to some hardcore fans of Danakil) surprising collaboration between these two well-respected camps considering their respective musical backdrops, c’est une collaboration exemplaire between Danakil and OnDubGround.
A very enjoyable album for one’s ears to round off this 2017 reggae & dub year. In oversight it’s all been done before, nothing groundbreaking but it’s my album of the year, and it’s a feel good 13 tracker 5/5.

Gibsy Rhodes