Record Review: Radikal Guru – The Rootsteppa (Moonshine Recordings)

Radikal Guru put some of his most mind-blowing tunes together with new tracks in a full-length for the first time. He showcases his versatility that is firmly rooted in dubstep and dub soundsystem culture to bring reggae into the future.  The dancefloor is melting – embrace Radikal Guru!  Jah bless!

Let’s be honest: dubstep proved to be  both a blessing and a curse for dub music. While it undoubtedly gave a breath of freshness in this historical genre, its booming popularity brought the sound in commercial dancefloors and pushed older artists to adopt a style that does not really fit in their own music. Not everyone can incorporate new music styles skillfully. I can say that it is one of the few genres that I have observed since its early days back in 2005, when the sound was more revolutionary. I saw the breakthrough, the peaking, the diversification as well as its current ‘staleness’.  I can say that Radikal Guru is one of the few artists to blend cultural dub and dubstep skillfully.

Radikal Guru’s (born Mateusz Miller) first full album release is packed with trademark songs and dublines that made him a household name in a whole new generation of dubheads. His music is pathbreaking in the sense that it combines the best of reggae, dubstep and UK dub to deliver grooves in their maximum heaviness and dancefloor potential without compromising the dub consciousness.

The first tune ‘Dread Commandments’ is a blueprint of modern dub. It takes the spirit of Alpha and Omega and coats it with a pounding dubstep bass riddim to produce a dancefloor smasher. It is totally pervasive and addictive, like a bassline armada with the rastafari banner high. Everything is just in place. One of the best moments of Radikal Guru which originally appeared in 2009’s ‘Dub out of Poland’ compilation.

The second track ‘Fire’ is a heavy riddim mixing the ‘locked’ beat of UK dub tradition with the shaking dubstep heaviness. Brother Culture is riding the riddim quite skillfully to deliver another dancefloor blast. ‘King Kong’ continues even deeper in the UK tradition, bringing Vibronics, Alpha and Omega and the likes stronger in mind. It is a more spaced-out chilling tune that has a bit of Ott and a short jungle break. The following number ‘Wisdom Dub‘ is slower and even more chilling with an ethic flare (reminiscent of another RG song, ‘Ahmed’). The trademark basslines remain heavy, reminding Abassi and Dubdadda.

Babylon Sky’ is another collaboration of Radikal Guru with Cian Finn. The conscious lyrics and melodic vocals of Cian Finn are combined with RG’s arrangements which are quite close to his UK dub moments. The title track is perhaps the most dubstep song of the album, featuring propulsive sub-bass and 2-tone riddims with reggae chords. Quite an interesting song.

In contrast, ‘Eu Ja Lhe Disse’ is the most rootsy song featuring the fierce singjay vocals of Monkey Jhayam. It follows the tradition of the dub version attached at the second half of the song. Big up!

Tundra dub’ is a typically nice dub from RG – no surprises. ‘Kali’, as also the song tile reveals, travels to India to arrive more to a gypsy-flavoured danceable cut: ‘Ethnic’.  ‘This applies’ is a well-known tune featuring again Cian Finn but more in a dubstep style. It originally appeared in 2010 in Kali 12″. The Rootsteppa album closes with a strong dubstep aptly titled ‘Conquering Dub’.

Overall, it is a very strong release in all senses keeping the dub vibes high. Radikal Guru has been forging a new musical niche in the dubstep genre that displays strong roots reggae sounds and culture (together with Dub Terror, Mungo’s Hi Fi); the title and sound of ‘Rootsteppa’ amplifies the aforementioned. Check out Radikal Guru in his dancefloor sets as well as pick up some of his crucial vinyl releases in Dubbed Out records.

Visit Radikal Guru’s official website

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