Sly and Robbie meet Dubmatix ‘Overdubbed’ (Echo Beach) 4/5

OK here is an album that basically sounds just like it says on the tin.. Overdubbed. The latest installment from Canadian underground dub musician, remixer and producer, Dubmatix, collaborating this time with vintage Jamaican riddim section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespear, aka Sly and Robbie, whom we are told gave a bunch of master riddims previously unreleased / new to Dubmatix to remix and overdub in carte blanche style and passion to which he has.

Dubmatix has a big following within the arena with nearly 300,000 followers on FB and over 2 million on Soundcloud, his catalogue runs into the hundreds with dub releases, remixes, collaborations, EPs and stand alone albums. It was 2004 when he debuted his first release, ‘Champion Soundclash’, since then he has collaborated with dozens of prolific players in the industry providing remixes and providing his own compositions showcasing numerous singers and MCs. He’s a hands-on touring producer and over the years has gained much respect from many big names within the world of reggae and dub. There are not many underground reggae and dub radio shows that don’t feature a Dubmatix workout in their playlistings and can be considered without a doubt a bonefide veteran of the second wave underground digital dub arena, one of the pioneers to brake away from the ‘dub by numbers’ sentiment that peppered the first wave of underground digital dub.

Sly and Robbie were most prominent during the whole of the 1980s and into the 90s, the riddim section supreme, the bass and drum inna dub ‘n spesh for one’s musical vest. Undisputed Jamaican champions. Diffiult to count exactly how many bodies of work Sly and Robbie have appeared on during the past four decades but it safe to say it probably runs into the thousands, and not only within the Jamaican reggae world of vintage dub and collaboration, but also the mainstream pop and rock world with their work with Grace Jones, The Stones, Herbie and dozens more. Most probably by now, weighing it all up, the most respected riddim section from Jamaica ever.

But that’s not all.. We have a full brass section appearing throughout the album and additional percussion plus appearances by some top drawer MCs that you may have heard of… Dubmatix pulling out all the stops by guesting on Trombone; Chris Butcher, on Trumpet; John Pittman, on Sax; Paul Metcalfe with conga duties provided by the one Pato Irie. Guest MC duties come courtesy of the mighty Prince Allah, Screechy Dan, Jay Spaker, Megative and Treson.

The album’s opener, ‘Dictionary’, comes in at full distorted throttle, with a punk attitude that is heavily embraced by the underground dub scene, and then mid way the lazer lights in a field moment arrives, just as I was expecting, but what I wasn’t expecting was the wall of sound brass section that comes in the mix to finish off the last few bars, a spaghetti western themed ‘Atom Heart Mother’ moment, this is what makes today’s underground eclectic dub movement so interesting.

Prince Allah and Screechy Dan make their appearance on the second piece entitled ‘Smoothie’ which it is, a nice rolling 90’s mid tempo traveling style roots and pleasure track, I predict this tune will be a big drop at any sound system special.

Now a piece called ‘Riding East’, and it is with this third track that the pure underground digi dub is in evidence, on the download album this piece gets the pleasure of having two bonus mixes, one called ‘Riding East’ alt. version and the other bonus ‘Riding East’ Orig Western Version and it’s this version that again harks back to the original second wave ‘comming at ya’ attitude with its movie samples and on the edge of distortion mixdown, big speaker special, no candyfloss situation as does the piece entitled ‘Shabby Attack’ which has a Jahno (French Dub Artist) mix vibe with the difference being the lazer lights in a field moments that arrive with extra attitude and I’m diggin it.

A piece called ‘Communication Breakdown’, featuring Jay Spaker on vocals, is very uncannily like the Congos from the Black Ark Studio days, both in Jay’s vocal delivery and harmonies and in the mixdown. Then there’s a piece called ‘Ruff House’, which takes one way back to early 80s minimalist dancehall dub, the days just before the Jamaican digital era arrived. The backing riddim track on this piece does sound deliberately dated with its tape hiss and lo fi splendor and it’s just perfect and somehow recognisable. There are plenty more tracks to discover on this album… Tune in and discover them.

This album is not untra hi-fi pristine sound Abbey Road affair, it is Jamaican dub riddim fully embraced by Dubmatix outa Canada.

The CD release has 13 tracks, the digital release has 16 and includes alternate mixes. So what happens when you put these singers and players together? One gets the best of both worlds. Dubmatix is having great fun with this album, passionate fun with a serious mixdown delivery, why only 4 out of 5 then..? Well I’ve kinda gushed enough with the descriptive above haven’t I so it loses a point for my gushing. Good work, I love it. I wish it was on tape cassette also. Dubmatix is everywhere on the dub internet but do check out his Bandcamp page for an easy to follow and concise musical adventure.

Gibsy Rhodes