March 7 2014
Giving you lil taste of what's yet to come on the Sound Travels' Sunday mixtape. Also really wanted to highlight a super-dope reggae release from Tel-Aviv-based producers Kalabata & Mixmonster called Congo Beat Drum that absolutely set me off this morning, prompting me to put the entire thing on repeat till I absolutely had to leave for work. The spirit of King Tubby on me, I decided then and there that this had to be in the mixtape; after all, when a new favorite arrives my DJ mind must make it available for you to hear.
And it's a good thing that I am because despite its 2013 release date, it seems to be unavailable in the US still. I'm assuming that changes and when it does, no reggae fan should sleep on this release. What Kalbata & Mixmonster have done is smart, albeit not radical in that they've taken the time to record a reggae album with vintage techniques and analog equipment. What makes this one special is that they got it right.
Taking two full years to craft dubs and riddims, Kalbata & Mixmonster travelled to Kingston, Jamaica and started tracking down their favorite singers and MC's, enlisting them for the project. Cats like Echo Minott, Jah Thomas, Prince Jazzbo and even dub poet Mutabaruka. All artists who in their heyday ruled the Jamaican ghettos, artists who helped usher in the dancehall era. Most of these artists were overlooked internationally as they narrowly missed the 70's golden age of 'Roots Rock Reggae' and were too ahead of their game to enjoy the huge success of contemporary dancehall.
In many ways Congo Beat Drum picks up the thread of those early dancehall days and advances it into the present whole, still different from dancehall, still powered by the pulsing bass of early, dub-driven soundsystem culture. Though Tel-Aviv is a far cry from Kingston, Kalabata and Mixmonster capture the essence. Not sure what the underlying riddims are on these ten songs but dayum! they're the hottest I've heardin a minute. Here's the video they produced to accompany the release. I'll be playing more than a few on the mixtape on Sunday at 7pm...