Subatomic Sound System
On All Frequencies
(Modus Vivendi Music, 2008)
Groups that champion dub and sound system lore of past times can’t always deliver what is expected. SSS, though, brings about enough of an authentic dancehall taste to quench whatever desires a listener may work up. The title track and lead off number hints at what may come. Good minimalist dub style, with the requisite space noises and random chatter begins On All Frequencies. However, the next two tracks feature the young ladies of the collective showcased in more club oriented settings. Not to say that “Criminal” is a booty track, but there is a darkly lit club with over priced beverages waiting to play that song at a moment’s notice. Treasure Don makes a few appearances, usually accompanied by a clavichord sound that ends up passing the track from mediocre to rather good. The rootsier cuts as well as dancehall numbers push this release forward with “Troddin’ Along” easily standing out from the rest. King Django has made a career for himself imitating his heroes. And here he does so in fine fashion. Unfortunately, the song appeared in a similar form on a Jump-Up Records compilation a year or two back. So, don’t rush out and find this album, but if you come upon the group performing in NYC, you better check your credit before buying a drink.
Zen of Logic
When you’re heralded as one of the greatest DJ’s of your generation, expectations are usually ridiculously high for each new release that you create. And that’s how it should be. Otherwise there would be a bit less pressure to produce something new or at least solid. DJ Logic, I’m sure has mulled all of this over and as a result has given us Zen of Logic on the venerable Ropeadope label. Quickly, this is not a ground breaking album, but I can’t say that I expected something on this disc to change my life. What we do find on this album is Medeski contributing innumerable key lines, Charlie Hunter helping out and Antibalas cranking out a far flung funk jam. While all of this is well and good, this is not going to change hip-hop as a genre. But who expects that every time out? A number of fast paced funk tracks fuel the album as it moves along towards “Holding Down”, which sounds the most complex, layered as well as constructed track on the album, with Medeski taking a prominent role in the creation of the track. Some Jamaican patois and vocal samples are tossed together in only the way Logic can, combining disparate genres and creating a solid album. More often than not, new albums from kingpins, in any genre, are not breath-taking, but simply consummate examples of a specific music.