Eyewise: Top Discoveries 2020 (Reggae Dub / Roots / Deep Dubstep)

January 5, 2021 - Audio

Eyewise Emanates – Outtallectuals’ Top Discoveries of 2020 in Reggae, Dub, Roots & Deep Dubstep

In 2020, we found more music than ever before in a wide range of genres. Hence, we decided to bring back our in-depth writeups and expand on our discoveries in a whole range of our focus genres. This year, our favourite picks range from a wide scope of the rootical genres, ranging from my home-sound of London’s Caribbean influenced deep dubstep and world fusion dub of OGDPROD artists, to the Rhythm and Sound-inspired depths of deep dub and beyond. Hope you all enjoy our finds.

Written by Molly SissonBaxtak & Sean H.

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Greentea Peng & P-rallel – soulboy [Different Recordings]

P-rallel jumps straight into a new energy for ‘Soulboy’ where he incorporates reggae roots into his usual Hip Hop and Jazz foundations. A sun-kissed track where Greentea Peng radiates once again with her lyrical zest. Released on ‘Soundboy’, P-rallel’s most recent EP which features other London talent from Lord Apex to Louis Culture. The project is accompanied by a short documentary, The Road to Soundboy which dives deep into the success of this generation of UK hip-hop artists. A release pinpointing the relish of success of these newly-thriving artists who have created a vibrant and sparkling ode to the sun, sound systems and summer.

– Written by Molly

Ashkabad x Baltimores – No More Water [ODGPROD]

Another release from ODGPROD’s incredible year of offerings comes from France’s reggae dub producer, ASHKABAD meeting his countrykin reggae singar, Baltimores. The song’s lyrics is an alarming and soulful commentary on global culture’s impact on the environment. The anthropocene’s overarching issues of global warming, water scarcity, migration issues and fossil fuel dependency are all explored in this project. It’s a truly touching and wise song, with lines like “impossible fi tell the right from the wrong, when your belly empty all alone”.

– Written by Baxtak

TEKA x Cali P – Hit Like Gunshot [LowLow Records]

Written as a tribute to all the African American brothers and sisters who’ve lost their lives due to police brutality in the US, but also extended worldwide, Guadeloupian/Swiss reggae artist, Cali P linked up with Berlin’s TEKA. The song was written while Cali P was quarantined in Gambia during COVID-19 and accordingly, the video is shot in this locality which directly linkage to the oppressed subjects’ African roots. The song is a beautiful blend of afrobeats, mega-conscious lyrics, acoustic guitars and TEKA’s gorgeous productions.

– Written by Baxtak

Chronixx – Dela Move [Soul Circle Music]

It’s hardly surprising to see Chronixx on such a Best Of list, however, I think Dela Move hit me harder than any previous Chronixx track I’ve heard before. Inspired by Rastafarian folklore, the cinematic music video clearly played on deeply cultural contexts, as Chronixx confronts his younger self who’s discovering the fire inside him, while in other shots, Chronixx performs the song around the fire with his elders.

Musically, the modern take on reggae is super fresh, while still sounding organic and roots-based. The flutes, tribal drums, acoustic guitars, horns and all surrounding elements make this hit as hard as any ceremonial music. This is beyond current; it’s modern ritual music for the youth.

– Written by Baxtak

Sumac Dub – Norska [ODGPROD]

This album came as a blessing this year, serving as an introspective into Sumac Dub as a growing artist, and his journey of musical self-discovery. The producer uses his spiritual connection to dive deep into dub heritage while using his gift of finding innovative ways of kindling unique sounds with individuality. Bringing forth the French dub-scene once again, Sumac’s album embodies the glowing embers of an ever-burning fire. A perfect concoction of eastern and western sounds made to take the mind to new dimensions, creating the perfect escape route from the dreary year of 2020.

– Written by Molly

Cultivation – Kora [Everest Sound System]

Our own Himalayan ambassador of all things reggae & dub is no stranger to adversity. Having evolved the Cultivation project for a decade in various formats, from selector & producer collabs and full-band performances to building own sound system and self-production, Kora is the artist’s latest step towards full sovereignty and DIY mastery of the project.

Cultivation also assembled the best of his local collaborators, including Nepali flutes from Kontinuom, verses from Shilong’s Ras Man Man and Kathmandu’s own Easi 12. ‘Kora’ is perhaps the closest consolidation of Tibetan Buddhism and Rastafarian culture to ever manifest, and it’s a clear stamp on the Himalaya’s representation in the rootical genres.

– Written by Baxtak

Numa Crew x Riko Dan – Babylon [Numa Recordings]

The pioneers of Italian dubstep Numa Crew collaborated with the ‘London City Warlord’ of Grime, Riko Dan, in a fierce rendition we haven’t heard since Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’. ‘Babylon’ is a masterpiece merging dancehall, deep dubstep and grime in a terrorizing mania. Riko Dan’s pertinent and powerful message validates itself with his thundering voice. Grasping snares over a hooking urban atmosphere, this song is screaming to be played on a sound system.

– Written by Molly

Subatomic Sound System ft. Screechy Dan – Babylon Soon Fall [Subatomic Sound]

Fresh from their tour and collaborations with Lee Scratch Perry, New York’s Subatomic Sound System,including Emch, Troy Shaka Simms and Larry McDonald, combined with the legendary MC, Screechy Dan, so create this perfect blend of original sound dub, but with absolutely crystal-clear production. This is rockers reggae at its best and most dubbed out. Perfect balance of live horns, percussions and dubbed out productions meets the chanting down of Babylon. This is revolutionary reggae dub music for the speaker boxes

– Written by Baxtak

Berlin Boom Orchestra – Retro Dub (Umberto Echo Remix) [Springstoff]

Umberto Echo remixed a beautifully multi-instrumental joint from Berlin Boom Orchestra, a reggae ska band from Germany. The song is the perfect conception of what you would expect from a high grade, high production and immaculately conceived and mixed dub track to sound like. The rich blend of trumpet, tenor sax, trombone, guitar, organ/synths, bass, percussions and drums and dubbed with laser precision, forming a platinum tier level work.

– Written by Baxtak

Kosmo Sound – Fortune [Zephyrus Records]

Representing the city of Gent, Belgium, the six-piece group of Kosmo Sound, came out with a 9-track album this year called Antenna as a great exploration of jazzy & almost post-rock approach to instrumental reggae dub. However, it was this track Fortune that stood out to me the most, with the unique polyrythmic melodies’ interaction with the drums in some sections, blended with steppa horns bridges, a heavier rocky crescendo and an epic cinematic and horns-based outro. This is atmospheric band-based dub for those looking for adventurous and progressive ideas on the instrumental side of things.

– Written by Baxtak

Max Le Daron x Azizaa Mystic x Joey le Soldat – Freedom [Akwaaba Music]

Lowup co-founder and OG producer, Max le Daron combined a unique set of influences in creating his debut album via Akwaaba Music, including collaborations, trips and recordings in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Brussels. ‘Freedom’ which was a lead single from the album combines many of the album’s influenes in one song, including beat collaboration with Gan Gah to highlight rhythm similarities between the song’s Ghanaian ritual music and Gan Gah’s home sounds of gnawa culture through a powerful 808-driven prism. Meanwhile, Ghanaian singer, Azizaa, and Burkinabe MC, Joey le Soldat, trade powerful vocal licks to give lyrical context to the song’s call for religious and cultural decolonising liberation.

– Written by Baxtak

Rider Shafique x Ishan Sound x Kahn – When Shall We Rise [ZamZam]

Members from Bristol’s Young Echo collective joined forces to deliver a powerful, lyrical sermon. Ishan Sounds and Kahn set the pace with their stepper-style beat and oriental reverberations. Fuelled with religiously precise rhythmic shakers and drums, this military dub creates the perfect backdrop for Rider Shafique’s slow militant vocals. ‘When Shall We Rise’ takes on a reflective tone with Shafique’s direct and poignant messages voicing racial issues along with social media over its dark and diligent backdrop. Each comrade brought their own musical tribute to create a chant for this year’s issues.

– Written by Molly

Epoch – Push Back [Modern Hypnosis]

‘Push Back’ takes us to the very core of dubstep with a gentle head-bow to its predecessors while validating Epoch’s advocation of the genre. Meditative, dark and unsettling low bass with detailed and subtle samples to rouse the senses; a true wall shaker from this year! The New-Zealand producer is a natural for nailing simple yet compact tracks where each detail plays a vital element in creating his sub-bass masterpieces.

– Written by Molly

Sweepa & Tosti – Ketel (TMSV remix) [Basskruit] 

TMSV’s remix of this Sweepa & Tosti track takes it back to ancient fire gatherings when and where the thumping sound of bashing ceremonial drums helps resting tribes to keep giant predators at bay, while bass howls work as a clear warning shot to ground insects and slytherins to stay the fuck away from your click. You could extend that metaphor to the modern day, and this dub war anthem from Basskruit and the collective of the 3 artists represented is communication via not-so-subtle “sine” language, translating to ‘stay away, we’re unfuckwithable’. 

JLSXND7RS x Armour – Ceres [Dream Eater Records]

This JLSXND&RS and Armour collaboration is definitely the hardest tune we heard in the genre this year. Blending the rough and aggressive patois grime flow of MC Armour from N.A.S.T.Y crew with the hard-hitting beat by JLSXND7RS, this is definitely a mosh pit-inducing score to smash any sound system. It’s almost scary to listen to… I think I’m seeing blood come out of my speaker set.

– Written by Baxtak

Keota – Knahledge [Slug Wife]

Released with Slug Wife’s fundraiser compilation to support Denver’s legendary The Black Box venue, tech bass veteran Keota gave us this whirling heater. The song prominently features the line from the ‘Here in My Garage’ meme, then gives way to a whirling jelly-like twister of a groove and bassline that is best describable as one of the song’s SoundCloud comments “Gnarledge”. Overall, this belter was one of the most unique takes on dubstep cadences we heard this year, released for a good cause and with an ironically, yet agreeable good message. Who can deny the value of some ol’ knahledge?

– Written by Baxtak

Gisaza x FLO – Saratoga EP [Deepend Movement]

Tribal and industrial soundscapes tailored with top-notch percussion and waves of heavy bass. A staggering 140 production by these two Slovenian producers that is able to teleport you back to ancient times. Gisaza and FLO play sunken yet harmonious utterances and cries that merge into waves of wobbles. The pair show devious technical skills using heavyweight bass over crystal clear melodies and cuts. Ancient tribes haunt this track through the hollow reverberations that go hand-in-hand with the tropical sounds of steel drums and xylophones.

– Written by Molly

“Definitely one of the most formiddable duos in deep dubstep at the moment, Gisaza & FLO bring the HEAT. Deepend Movement for the win!”

– Written by Baxtak

Andi Otto x F.S. Blumm – Long Way Home [Pingipung]

Hamburg’s Andi Otto collaborated with F.S. Blumm for this leftfield dub track to result in spaced-out and misty soundscapes. Taken out of an eleven-track album, the duo’s collaboration is marked with a rich tapestry of sounds and instruments, from warm tape-noises and organic strings and acoustic guiters, and graceful modular sounds, ‘Long Way Home’ is a perfect exploration of the organic and smooth side of experimental dub. Definitely one of the most unique roots songs we heard this year.

– Written by Baxtak

Ink Project x Coreysan – Feeding The Fire (Babe Roots Remix) [Blind Colour]

Babe Roots has been one of my most exciting deep dub / dub techno discoveries in the past couple of years. With the energy of original Rhythm and Sound releases, this is dub’s most spaced-out and sluggish blackhole where few ruckus can escape the gravitational pull. The song is a remix of an original between Ink Project and Bristolian/Trinidadian singer, Coreysan, whose graspy and tired vocals are a perfect accomplice to Babe Roots’ equally trodden and worn-down sound. Nevertheless, the production quality is absolutely top notch.

– Written by Baxtak

Joaquin Cornejo – Cotton Dub [Peace on Earth]

‘Cotton Dub’ is a sublimely minimal and ambient-adjacent piece of dubbed out electronica from Ecuadorian-born producer Joaquín Cornejo. What starts with static hiss and haunting vocal murmurs crescendos into slow-mo drums giving way to footwork trills and the wonderful Prince Jazzbo’s ‘Crab Walking’ vocal sample (“Calling all dancers”). The vocals and glitched out percussion form an intrepid jig cutting right through the skybound dub chords found throughout. Cornejo’s ‘Cotton Dub’ is a stellar contribution to Berlin-based label ‘Peace on Earth’

– Written by Sean H

INVT x Nick Leon – Manatee Dub [INVT]

Prolific power-duo INVT teaming up with fellow Miami producer Nick León will, of course yield extraordinary results. ‘Manatee Dub’ for us, exploits both parties’ manipulation of dub, footwork and ambient aesthetics with an impressively wild fusion of half-beat kicks and syncopated Latin percussion rolls. Elemental swells and serrated metal claps navigate across endless reverb, anxiously feeding into the sub-heavy tempest that the track rapidly becomes. A mesmeric and dangerous collaboration from these prolific artists.

– Written by Sean H

Akcept ft Another Channel / Tailored Sound – TMC005 [The Moth Club]

Wielding both dub and techno sentiments can sometimes feel like a bit of a Rhythm & Sound pastiche; to develop on this sound is therefore immensely impressive. Dubstep mystic Akcept assures us of this, deftly channelling potent dub-techno on this limited 10”. ‘Moonlight’ fuses twilight saxophone from Bristol’s Tailored Sound with robust drum work, chugging forward into limitless space. Whilst ‘Transmission’ slows it down further with the help of dub-artisan collaborator, Another Channel. Expansive drum hits, analogue gusts and rattling sub bass give this one a moodier feel of the two, super deep this.

– Written by Sean H

Asian Dub Foundation x 47 Soul – Human 47 [ADF Communications]

A track that condenses Asian Dub Foundations complex musical history and style perfectly: throwing sounds of rock, dub, hip hop, ragga without warning. Collaborating with 47 Soul, a group from Jordan, ‘Human 47’ serves as a rich anthem full of diversity. The Jordanian-Palestinian musicians who coined the term of Shamstep, a fusion of traditional eastern sounds with electronic music, bring their own radical soundwaves to the song. This gypsy inspired dub is crammed with influences and sounds ready to make anyone want a jig. Merging manic English and Polish vocals, over the fast-paced swing soaked in 80s synths and crazy guitar acoustics leaves the listener intrigued and thirsty for more.

– Written by Molly

Globular x Geoglyph – Messages from the Resonator [Entangled Records]

The mighty veteran of psychedelic dub and downtempo music, Globular released his latest project in 2020, this time pairing with the fellow patron of chillout music, Geoglyph. “Messages From The Resonator” is a simultaneous journey through scintillating interstellar rhythms, using organic earthly instrumentation, and guided by introspective inner-mind adventurism. This one is perfect for anyone looking at the more psychedelic domain of dub music, with blends of psybreaks, electronica, rock and world music sprinkled througout it.

– Written by Baxtak

Ape Drums x BEAM – Delete [Vision Sound / Mad Decent]

Representing the more Latin and dancehall domain of that eyewise sound, Ape Drums and BEAM’s ‘Delete’ is a crucial dancefloor anthem. The tune does an incredible job of providing a super solid groove while still remaining minimal in its electronic music-based approach, while also keeping plenty of room for tasteful switch-ups. This is arguably the most mainstream / EDM sounding thing you’ll see in this list, but I suppose as far as the more commercial side of the genre group, goes, this tune hits super hard.

– Written by Baxtak

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