Nian Dub: Aftermath
NB Audio

With a little help from friends Mr Fox, Kuntri Ranks, Semiotix, and Dan Tasker, Manchester duo Nian Dub cover multiple bases on Aftermath, the debut EP from brothers Rory and Tim O'Neill on their own NB Audio imprint. Not only do they serve up a plentiful helping of roaring breaks on the thirty-four-minute release's six cuts but generous servings of dub, reggae, dubstep, and jazz, too. Each track finds the brothers riffing on a different style in a manner reminiscent of The Clash's Sandanista.

Things start off rather dystopically with the title track, whose dread-fueled atmospheres Nian Dub deepens with Fox's raw vocal utterances and a caustic cocktail of tribal drums and dancehall rhythms. The gloom lifts for “Deliverance,” whose rampaging skitter and lethal bass smears prove the O'Neills are no slouches in the beatsmithing department. Fellow Manchesterite Semiotix collaborates with Nian Dub on the swizzling roller “Antaeus,” a funky exercise in dub-wise beat science if ever there was one, while trumpeter Dan Tasker helps turn “Jazz Craft” into one for the late-night jazz crowd—even if it's as memorable for its sleek drum'n'bass groove as Tasker's horn. The dubstep homage “Step Out” hits all the familiar genre notes, including crisp low-end breaks, creeping atmospheres, and deep bass wobble, after which Kuntri Ranks intensifies the horn-heavy skank of “Almighty Dub” with his rasta-flavoured vocal stylings.

No rulebooks are rewritten on the EP, but the O'Neills nonetheless show themselves to be thoroughly up to the challenge of executing credible work across multiple stylistic zones. Aftermath more attests, then, to their versatility than their innovativeness.

January 2014