Various VariousInvasion Of The Mysteron Killer Sounds
The bridge that connects Jamaica with the UK is like a one-way umbilical cord, beginning in the Caribbean. Since the eighties - with Mad Professor and Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound studios – till now, the music of the sound-systems and home studios in Kingston have provided constant nutrition to the music scene of cities like Bristol and London. It started almost as a subsidiary, but later became a ferocious and voracious client. A client who never stopped asking for more basslines, echoes and minimal rhythmic frames to use in local sounds - from drum’n’bass and trip-hop to grime and, of course, dubstep. The British dependence on Jamaica has been perfectly documented, but it can’t hurt to hear another view on the still fruitful relationship. “Invasion Of The Mysteron Killer Sounds” is a double CD selected by Stuart Baker (one of the Soul Jazz executives) and Kevin Martin (The Bug, King Midas Sound), which focuses on one of the most decisive audio elements from the Jamaican legacy: riddim, and, by extension, dancehall.
In short, Dancehall, is the digital turn Jamaican music took in the eighties, mainly starting with the work of King Jammy - who pioneered the replacement of the analogue studio and echo chamber (in the vein of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark Studios) with the digital studio and the computer as the centrepiece. Dancehall sounds more synthetic than the previous bass sound - which was warmer and more expansive - it is cruder and more direct. The composition starts from the riddim, a compact sonic arrangement (bass, drum, effects and maybe a melodic element) that is like a riff in rock music; sharp and recognisable. The riddim can’t be modified (unlike a reggae beat, changeable via remixing, i.e. dub), many have become famous in Jamaican culture with their influence effecting the evolution of scenes like break-core and grime.
“Invasion Of The Mysteron Killer Sounds” isn’t a historical overview of the evolution of the riddim, but rather a chaotic collection of works it has impacted, alongside examples from past and present. The first CD (selected by Martin), features illustrious names from the eighties - like Steely & Clevie and Dave Kelly – besides representatives of the dancehall revival at the beginning of this century. These include Lenky (the famous “Diwali Riddim”) and Annex Crew - artists who inspired Diplo to produce his now mythical “Diplo Riddim” in 2004 (which couldn’t be left out on this record). It also includes more recent talents like the New Yorkers Team Shadetek ( “Yoga Riddim”), The Bug himself ( “Aktion Dub”), Jamaicans Ward 21 ( “Pit Bull”), German Stereotyp ( “Modern Times”) and Redlight - who, on “M.D.M.A.”, connects dancehall with the very new UK Funky.
The most valuable part of the album - from an educational viewpoint - is the second CD, compiled by Stuart Baker. It’s the more archaeological of the two, the one that allows you to trace the slight nuances of a sonic evolution - from early work with basic software, to the 3D sound (as the album sleeve indicates) dominating modern dancehall. In his selection we find names like South Rakkas Crew ( “Red Alert”); the mythical King Tubby ( “Fat Thing Version”); nineties representatives like Firehouse Crew ( “No False Hair”) and classics like David Jahson ( “King Of Kings Dub”) - among many other Caribbean delicacies, with fat sounds to be discovered patiently.