Dreadzone – Dread Times (Dubwiser Records)
LP / CD / DL
Formed back in 1993 by Greg Roberts (Big Audio Dynamite) and Tim Bran (Julian Cope), Dreadzone were soon joined by Leo Williams and Dan Donovan also of B.A.D. fame to create their own brand of several genres wrapped into one.
Various personnel change over the years and a certain John Peel citing the bands second album, Second Light as one of his favourite of all time, have seen the group gain underground recognition and support over time.
Don Letts appears with additional lyrics and dance, sublime guitar riffs, folk roots sentiments and breakbeat bass styles all combine over twelve lengthy tracks catapulting Dreadzone into the UK Top 40 albums since 1995.
Let’s get straight to the point. Rootsman opens into a dubby, deep bass with driving, old skool jungle drums. Some nice Reggae vocals pop in and out over the top and synthesisers twinkle around it all. There could even be a bit of Augusto Pablo in there somewhere.
Mountain has a real ’90’s dub feel to it, almost ambient in places and throbs along nicely with a smooth groove and some good breakdowns and key changes, as does Battle with its deep dubby bass lines. From Escape right through to Keep It Blazing this is an album which doesn’t stray too far from its roots and doesn’t have a tremendous amount of variation but that doesn’t matter because this is an album to chill to, dance to, have sex to and ultimately just enjoy.
Never Going Back throws a nice curveball with quite a modern sound, a good fast rhythm and could be a single if it was put out there. It has some nice female vocals over it all pushing it along and then dropping down into the smooth and sensual Where Is My Friend which is like pure lover’s reggae.
The album ends with quite an ethereal, ambient soundscape instrumental of percussion and little blippy synths all backed up with a punchy dub line and some spacey piano. It’s a nice end to a free-flowing album. Dread Times isn’t breaking new ground by any means and it does feel very familiar however it is an enjoyable listen and would sit well at a nice late night gathering.
All words by Jay Stansfield via Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.