As Pablo Raster’s bright and bouncy album cover makes its appearance in high-definition on my screen, Italy is calling for fresh ears to indulge its collection of creations inside the folder; a nicely done pdf press release and cover photo (you would be surprised with the amount of albums we get sent in nice yellow folders that have absolutely no album info or additional promo reading matter, and on ocassion not even an album cover.. My gosh). Although this album is not a strictly Italian affair, indeed there are a dozen or so guest collaborators from all over Europe, this is the power of artistic collaboration that the internet does positively enable.
The wonderfully named Ital dub producer Pablo Raster has landed with a new long player inna digi steppers frontdrop and of course the creations come complete with their -almost obligatory- second or ‘dub’ versions or indeed sometimes a dubbier dub version, so what treats do we have lined up for the ears..? Well it’s always nice to hear a Don Fe collaboration and he appears on the dub version of a piece entitled ‘Must Flip’ which has been given a voice by Dan I Locks riding the urgency of the riddim track with a touch of impact, it’s an uptempo affair and Don Fe gives us his trademark vibe on its dub cut ‘Must Version’ which has a laid back and chilled flute which works really well against the urgent backdrop of the music and its mixdown and makes for one of a couple or three standout tracks, another being ‘What A Hit’ with voicing given by the crucially named Juniah Kinky and with its dub version ‘What A Dub’ I can just about forgive the obligatory melodica wailing throughout the version for once, for these pieces do offer at least a little ‘lazer lights in a field moments’ steering away from the ever so creeping up on you vibe that digi steppers dub music can achieve; the dreaded “dub by numbers syndrome”. Anyway, the vocal of ‘What A Hit’ ends rather abruptly as one hears just a small second of the dub cut about to come in before the snip edit, perhaps it would have been cooler to let the vocal and dub version run as a whole like a 12″ mix style.
‘Stronger Than Strong’ is the big vocal track on the album which features the voice of ‘Weedax’ and its dub contains those crucial vocal (long looped echo) effects which is always a delight to hear. The albums first track is an infectious musical introduction, a jingle heavenly made for underground radio ears by Pablo Raster and a guest voice by the name of ‘Maken’, I would have loved to have heard more of that piece, I guess that’s why they call them ‘teasers’ or ‘trailors’ in the entertainment industry. Quote from the accompanying PDF press release “A possible milestone in the dub music scene”.. I don’t know about that I hear nothing overtly alternative within this set, although it does nod to encompassing other close relatives of this particular dub genre and the production does touch on this by blending those nod’s so I am not so sure its a “Milestone” but perhaps a forward thinking stone? It remains digi steppers overall.
The album’s creations are in keeping to a pretty well trodden and clean path, it’s core sound is well within the genre’s decade long comfort zone but does however manage at times to reach out further, the genre has a largish following both with the dub Gathering -marquee in a field, complete with loud sound system- circuit and the genre is also well represented in the underground dub radio arena on the internet, something came to me once or thrice during my listening sessions for this album’s review and that is at times on a couple of tracks I feel like I’m listening to something akin to the old Conscious Sounds productions yet on a level a tad more adventurous.
The album is easy to listen to, nothing harsh on the ears, yet no massive surprises and for meat this point in time I am neither at a Gathering nor doing a radio show and so from a Sunday afternoon at home perspective with the hi fi on..