Dub Gabriel :: Ascend
[baboon]   review from dj advent  

Dub Gabriel's Ascend: the first thing that catches the eye is the cover art. Generally speaking, cover art doesn't represent the type of sound found within. But that generality is broken here by as1, expertly crafting a conglomerate of tripped graphics such as mixer boards, elephants, sadhu's, subway's and indigenous people's from South and East Asia. All of these personify the sound and quality of the music. It's a wicked concoction that will surely please fans of Bill Laswell, Muslimguaze, and other Ethnillectual Listeners™.

Ascend is, in actuality, an amusement park of different electronic and traditional genres. There's really something for everybody. If you feel like getting dubbed out on the spiritual Ferris wheel then "Sacrifice and Bliss" is for you. This one is the more impressive of the few Dub plate's on the album. Dub Gabriel knows Dub. He's appeared on albums with Qabbalah Steppers and Baraka Orchestra. Two bands whose members heralded the dub sound from its earliest stages. For the adventurous few, the title track "Ascend" will escalate you to the top of the roller coaster and send you mercilessly down the chaotic, abstract twist and turns of a tablatronic Drum and Bass session. If you appreciate Bill Laswell's renditions of D&B you will delight in this one. The tribal drumbeats and psychedelic spoken word musings of Young Sand in "New Sand" renders the often surreal landscapes of a trippy fun house with wobbly mirrors, mazes, slides and the occasional frightful jumps.

To my suprise and utter enjoyment it seems Muslimguaze, the most prolific Arabiant/industrial/experimental producer in the world (163 releases since 1982), has attracted Dub Gabriel in more ways then one to his trademark sound. The sampled Dumbec, Darbouka, Oud, & flute literally take you into "A Journey Within The Journey." It's driving rhythm and focalized distortion exemplify a primeval culture abducted and thrust into today's technological society. Another illustration of Muslimguaze's mark on Dub Gabriel is "Urban Mystic," the Asian Massive rendition of an industrial song or vice versa. Outside of Drum and Bass and Breaks, Asian Massive producers have a tendency to veer away from dark and crunchy soundz found in the industrial genre. It's really refreshing to hear, especially with the Indian-Vocal-Additive™ (IVA) for extra flavor.

In this first solo release Dub Gabriel also represents the N.Y. hip-hop/trip-hop sound with "Celebrate," "Adab" and "Brooklyn Haze." The first time I spun out "Adab" was at HempFest. It's a festival that attracted 175,000 ganja smokers and supporters last year, a really diverse crowd. At one point all the B-boys pimped out in Snoop Dog's clothing line had their hands in the air hollering "Yeah!" In this instance Dub Gabriel has pushed the limits of the South Asian old school Hip-Hop beat beyond Dan the Automater and Dj Baba G. It's crunchy, consistent and lacks the dissonant drum loops found in alot of old school hip hop. "Adab" also features the diverse assembly of musicians (formerly known as Musafir) hailing from Rajasthan - Maharaja. With these trax and others he is really pushing the ethnotechno sound. If he's not already, he will be a pillar in the dubbed out downtempo styling of the Asian Massive.

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ethnotechno rating: 4 out of 5
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  1. Sacrifice & Bliss
  2. Celebrate (pick)
  3. Urban Mystic (pick)
  4. New Sand
  5. Adab (pick)
  6. Acend
  7. A Journey Within A Journey
  8. Brooklyn Haze (pick)
  9. Element Breaths
  10. Reminisce