Henry & Louis: Every Time / Every Dub

Strategy: Dub in my System / Hardware Dub

Portland, Oregon-based ZamZam (managed by Ezra Ereckson, also responsible for BSI Records) is a more than welcome addition to the label wars, if these two seven-inch singles are indicative of its style and quality. Lovingly presented in screen-printed sleeves and available in 500 copies each, the discs are both deep dub excursions, even if the previously unreleased disc by Bristol dub kings Henry & Louis (real names Jack Lundie and Andy Scholes) was laid down in 1997 and the set by Paul Dickow (aka Strategy) a more recent production.

Recorded at the Vision Factory in the UK, Henry and Louis' “Every Time” is a roots classic that features all the earmarks of dub in its raw and authentic glory. Two tempos are in play, with a gruff and somewhat lugubrious vocal by Prince Green (“Every time I hear the rain fall / And taste the fruits of my mother's creation…”) the slower of the two, and the backing uptempo by comparison, powered as it is by a muscular drum pulse. Equally prominent are the tune's thunderous bass line and piano chords, their presence intensified by the liberal doses of reverb and echo with which they're drenched. The vocal isn't banished entirely from the B-side, but “Every Dub” naturally shifts the focus to the instrumental side of things, with the echoing guitar chords, piano, drum hits, and bass line at the forefront. With or without the vocal, it's mesmerizing stuff and a fabulous choice for the label's inaugural release.

Strategy's fresh two-tracker is Dickow's first dub outing since Going Street Dub / Dunes Dub, a seven-inch single issued on Shockout in 2004. Though he's been exploring multiple styles—house, world, disco, ambient, et al.—in the years since on releases like the full-length Future Rock (kranky, 2007) and twelve-inch World House (Community Library, 2005), the ZamZam single is full-on dub, pure and simple. The A-side's “Dub In My System” rolls out a sweetly loping, bass-prodded skank peppered with a relaxed drum groove, electronic fills reminiscent of Sly Dunbar, and analog synth textures. Effects and echo abound here and on “Hardware Dub,” whose more straight-on rhythm offers a spacious ground for the trippy synth squiggles and echoing percussive strikes that appear alongside its keyboard splashes. ZamZam has seven-inch singles in the pipeline from Deadbeat, Xoki & Hieronymus, Jah Warrior, Badawi, and others, so its future (and ours) looks very bright indeed.

October 2012