L.B. Dub Corp: Unknown Origin
Ostgut Ton

Don't be thrown by the moniker selected by Luke Slater for his L.B. Dub Corp debut album, as Unknown Origin isn't pure dub of the rootsy kind associated with genre originators like King Tubby and Lee Perry. The ten-track collection clearly does draw upon the past—dance music history, to be exact—but not in some lame retrograde manner; instead, Slater uses the past as an inspirational springboard for new explorations that build upon house and techno, and reference Africa as much as (if not more than) they do Jamaica. A case in point, the opening cut “Take a Ride” has more in common with house music than dub, even if the frazzled cut-ups of Benjamin Zephaniah's voice give the swinging cut a punchy, funked-up quality that suggests some connection to current UK music-making. In short, Unknown Origin is no mere exercise in nostalgia but an invigorated set brought to us by the ever-consistent Ostgut Ton.

It's a high-spirited set of celebratory and hard-grooving tracks that downplay melancholy and introspection. The disc isn't without its dub moments, as “L.B.'s Dub” shows in its raw groovesmithing, bass pulsations, and echo effects, but more often than not it ventures further. “Nearly Africa,” for instance, pushes boldly beyond its infectious Afrobeat pulse and jubilant chants until jazz and house both become part of the polystylistic mix. In another marvel of construction, Kraftwerk-styled synth phrases imbue the locomotive groove of “Ever and Forever” with a glossy sheen, while the piano motif accounts for the tune's house feel. In addition, glistening organ chords sweep across the swirling vistas of “No Trouble in Paradise,” while Function climbs aboard at disc's end to help Slater administer the lazer-focused techno of “Roller,” almost as if to remind the listener that Unknown Origin is, let's not forget, an Ostgut Ton release.

To be fair, the album isn't perfect: “Generation to Generation,” for example, hardly needs a distracting voiceover to make its case when its sizzling jazz-house groove is already tasty enough. Having said that, the missteps are few and far between on this largely solid outing from Slater.

November 2013