Political post-punk trio This Heat dissolved at a turbulent time in the UK. Margaret “The Iron Lady” Thatcher was in power, and her budget-cutting, ultra-conservative influence was felt strongly in–among many other places–the cultural melting pot of Brixton, South London, where This Heat had their origins. Dusting himself off after the collapse of the band in 1982, guitarist/vocalist Charles Bullen united with Julius Samuel to form Lifetones and embraced the sounds of the local West Indian community to fuse reggae flavor to the kind of propulsive, rhythmic, and experimental music made by This Heat.
Deceit, This Heat’s 1981 album, had seen them work with David Cunningham, who had already helped mesh dub reggae with new wave pop on The Flying Lizards’ 1979 single, “Money (That’s What I Want Want).” Even so, For A Reason was a great leap, one that created a strange, unsettling mood as Bullen’s multi-tracked, chant-like vocals met dub beats and Krautrock-informed repetition. Where Deceit dealt with the nuclear threat, For A Reason was less reactionary, even quoting Bob Marley in its lyrics: “you love the life you live, you live the life you love.”
Containing 6 songs in total, the album was recorded at Cold Storage studio and released on Bullen’s own Tone Of Life Records. It has become a sought-after collector’s item that changes hands for hundreds of dollars a time. As a solo artist, Bullen was not prolific–it was 15 years until, in 1998, he released Internal Clock under the name Circadian Rhythms–but like the rest of his band, he has enjoyed a long, enriching career in unending pursuit of new sounds.
Even though This Heat had no commercial success to follow up on, For A Reason was an album created with no intention of hitting the charts. Reissued on Light In The Attic, Lifetones’ single album retains a timeless quality and perhaps–on tracks such as “Good Side”–a futuristic sound that nobody else ever caught up to.
Colón Man is the exceptional debut album proper by visionary Jamaican dancehall artists Gavin Blair (Gavsborg) and Jordan Chung (Time Cow) plus their extended crew, aka Equiknoxx – once again for Demdike Stare’s DDS label. Where their widely acclaimed Bird Sound Power primer compilation, issued on DDS in 2016, brought the rest of the world up to speed with the music produced between late ‘00s and 2015, their first album now brings a 2020 sound into sharp, technoid focus thru a baker’s dozen steely, heat-seeking riddims galvanised with clinical electronics and a Midas Touch approach to sampling.
The record’s title, Cólon Man refers to a Jamaican tale (and song) about a mysterious character, whom, like Marcus Garvey, was one of over 100,000 Jamaicans who returned from working in Cólon on completion of the Panama Canal – regarded among the greatest feats of engineering known to humankind, physically connecting the greatest bodies of water on the planet. In context of the album, Gavsborg and Timecow take the story as a metaphorical foundational for a roots and future sound, acknowledging the vital groundwork of previous generations of producers, whilst soundly contextualising their mutant new advancements of Jamaican Dancehall.
Recorded between December 2016 and June 2017, Colón Man forms a stark, stripped down and conceptually blinding record. In tone and texture, the duo favour far colder, more abstract sounds, crucially lit up with sparingly used samples that lend the record its dissonant, harmonic colour and bittersweet hooks, stylishly feeding forward their playfully weird sense of humour into a rugged, nutty and even noisily imagineered set.
Bookended by the gauzy, Detroit-compatible synth looks and acid hall grind of Kareece Put Some Some Thread In A Zip Lock, and the mesh of Motor City sleekness with Far Eastern strings on Waterfalls In Ocho Rios, they distill and diversify their bonds in myriad ways across the album. There’s a killer dancehall/trap hybrid in the percolate chorales and man trills of Plantain Porridge, along with the secretive dub-into-dancehall transfusion of Addis Pablo’s melodica in the belly rolling Melodica Badness, while Ceremonial Eating Dog and the hyaline designs of We Miss You Little Joe – a tribute to their pal Alty Nunes – are arguably the most fwd Jamaican riddims you’ll hear in 2017, and Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel uncannily recalls the clockwork mechanics of Haruomi Hosono’s Alternative 3, from his S-F-X  LP.
No matter what electronic box or boxes you subscribe to, Colón Man is a hugely inventive, compelling album for the ages, a remarkable iteration of Black Secret Technology for 2017 and far beyond.
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty…
Music For Dreams asked longtime friend of the label, Moonboots, to pick out a selection of little-known gems from his vast collection of chilled music that powerfully encapsulate moods of calm and moments of contemplation, that equally echo the cozy solace of chilled winter days and reflect the blissful, searing heat of the summer sun. ‘Moments In Time’ compiled by Moonboots is the second album in the new, special collectors’ series on Copenhagen’s Music For Dreams. Following its vinyl release, album was named Piccadilly Records #1 Compilation Album of the Year 2017.
Moonboots has put together a dense collection of songs with a timeless feel. They will doubtless sound as good in the pub as they might at home on a Sunday or in a cabin in the woods.
A1 –Rishi Simple Trust 9:30
A2 –David Darling Cello Blue 8:13
A3 –July Skies The Softest Kisses 1:59
B1 –Begin Names In The Sand 4:47
B2 –Farbror Resande Mac Janne 5:16
B3 –Blank & Jones My Island 4:22
B4 –Ben Morris Gissningslekken 3:26
C1 –Gryningen Från Andra Hand Till Stränderna I Nice (Mike Salta Edit) 6:23
C2 –Colorama Anytime 4:30
C3 –Natureboy Love Song 5:54
D1 –Bombay Hotel Between Leaves 7:38
D2 –Paul Hardcastle Moments In Time 3:31
D3 –Matt Deighton Tannis Root 2:55
D4 –The Swan & The Lake Waiting For Spring 5:59
A1 MWI Intro 2:47
A2 Backin 2:54
A3 Safe 5:24
A4 A Jungle For RAMZi #5 2:02
A5 Fly Timoun 6:16
B1 Brazili 4:55
B2 In Shed w Tan 3:21
B3 Nofo 5:59
B4 Ptite Zelda 3:13
Re-issue on Cree Record of an early Michael Boothman and Andre Tanker project, featuring the band Family Tree from 1972. ‘Tabu’ and ‘So Dey Say’ are Family Tree’s only recordings. Limited edition of 500 copies.