Tuesday, 26 August 2014

International Observer 'Touched' Review

Artist: International Observer

Title: Touched

Label: Dubmission Records

Released: August 2014

This release is a re-mix compilation of other artists by International Observer as opposed to his solo productions. A fair few of them I already had but as always for those fans of International Observer (or indeed dub reggae in general) who haven't, you may well be interested in what this release has to offer.

The album starts with Tom's Doordashan mix of Bic Runga's 'Drive' and I'm not familiar with the original. However, what I can ascertain is this version is a well polished production that combines a mellow female vocal, the kind you'd expect to accompany a trip-hop piece, while the music floats between melodic chill and a deep raga dub.

The next track sticks with the Indian vibe with a re-mix of Bombay Dub Orchestra's 'Monsoon Malabar'. The strings are stretched both beautifully and perfectly alongside vocal echoes and bamboo flutes. I like this piece a lot ... perfect hammock music.

The next three tracks take the emphasis away from the East and straight back to Jamacia with a retro 70's feel. Pitch Black's '1000 Mile Drift' for example is a smoky chilled out dub. While Warp Technique's 'Nowhere Dub' gets given a re-rub which is reminiscent in style of some of the early dub pioneers and the Black Seeds 'Come To Me' has a slow ska feel dotted with old skool dub fx.

Minimal Compacts 'Autumn Leaves' is another track where I'm not familiar with the original. This Oak Tree dub contains stereo-typical dubbed out reggae keys that chug along quite nicely with the odd vocal injection and a little horn. While the International Observer meets Horace re-work of Pitch Blacks classic electro-dub 'Lost In Translation' has always been a great alternative, stripping it back to a lush melodic acoustic.

Stellar's 'Slack Bastard' once again throws any comparison to the original into the wind as far as I'm concerned. As with Bic Runga I'd hazard a guess from the female vocal that's it's a trip-hop original, either way it's a lovely slow bouncy dub with some male vocal stabs injected here and there. While the Monkey Forest dub of Banco De Gaia's 'Oreia' transports you to the Far East in a spiritual dub fashion you'd expect but with a definite International Observer stamp.

Once more with the last two tracks I have no knowledge of the originals. The Daddy Dub of Tapes 'Lowry Dub' combines a retro feel with off-key pitch bends, a fair few fx and a squelchy plod throughout. Then we finish with an alternative of where we started with the Interstellar Underpass mix of Bic Rungas 'Drive' which this time is served up in a spacey instrumental drum & bass stylee.

To summarise this release has been a combination of new delights and wonderful refreshers for me and I'd highly recommend a listen. Especially to lovers of dub reggae who aren't familiar with these releases at all.

Reviewed by Woodzee