Record Review: Various Artists – Jahtarian Dubbers Vol. 3 (2012)

Jahtari is still pioneering its brand of artisanal dub with a fistful of solid tracks from the familiar artists associated with the label. Upgrading 8-bit analogue gear and exploring parallel dub dimensions

Jahtarian Dubbers

Genre: Dub / 8-bit Reggae

Region: Leipzig, Germany

Artists’ Website: Jahtari

Label: Jahtari

Jahtari is really one of the major forces stirring the waters of reggae dub music over the last decade. Jahtari is largely responsible for bringing the 8-bit craze in reggae music as well as rejuvenating the interest for the more conscious 1980s digital dancehall sound. Over the years, from their outspoken, strictly laptop, digital programming they slowly shifted towards (and inspired others) circuit bending and hands-on sound experimentation on analogue gear. That means that the people behind Jahtari still spend a big part of their time in DIY sound machine construction, modifying existing gears etc. That is real music making from the bottom up.

Jahtari Logo

I came to notice Jahtari when they put out their first label compilation ‘Jahtarian Dubbers Vol.1’ back in 2008. Their sound surprised me positively and since then I follow their music. I was also captivated by the concept and the loads of information I could get from their website, which is reference point for dub music. After listening to the present label collection I can say that Jahtari is still on the good track with revamped gear and a bunch of addictive bass-dripping riddims.

‘Sweeter’ kicks in a typical Jahtari trademark sound: 8-bit, loaded with plenty of atari dub effects, deep bass, quirky melodies and a captivating chanting voice (Mikey Murka rules) – just amazing. John Frum in ‘Healing Dub’ brings the earliest dub versions known to man in the Jahtari interface console. Next comes one of the top dancehall toasters / singjays of today, Soom T, riding skillfully over the epic arkanoid-like riddim we remember from the first compilation (John Frum’s ’May In Dub’).

Monkey Marc’s ‘Rudebwoy Dub’ is another great shot-in-a-row in this compilation: a simple and effective breakbeat riddim, a dramatic spaced-out melody, great shifts and great sampled voices spitting out rebellious phrases like “Our politicians no longer represent us, the people.” Right after, Ranking Levy drops an oldschool dancehall ranting on a convincing computerized riddim right from the 1980s.

Next comes an unexpected tune: Rootah’s (Jahtari originator) version of Dub Syndicate’s ‘Secret Laboratory’, itself a collaboration with the one and only Lee Perry – very enjoyable. ‘Swordman’ is a showcase of Jahtari’s progress, a funky and epic tune. Mungo’s Hi Fi’s familiar bass wobbles strike us again to give place to another dancehall anthem. ‘Dancehall Girls’ features an unmistakable sporty riddim typical of Tapes‘ massive dancehall style that comes with fresh upbeat innovative timbres – just great.

In ‘Asteroid Dub Force’ Disrupt(another Jahtari originator) picks it up from where he stopped with ‘Citadel Station’ in 2010’s

Commodore C64 MIDIbox

MIDIbox SID synth – DIY custom Jahtari-made dub gear

compilation, this time with richer sound yet totally astro. Rootah just finishes this compilation ideally with a slow, meditative track aptly titled ‘Mr.Vibes’.

Overall, Jahtari maintains its status as a pioneer dub label, as it continues to excel from gear development to music making. Jahtari is a hotspot of creativity in today’s flourishing dub scene and they pave the way for others to continue the neverending course to experimentation. If you still do not know Jahtari just enjoy browsing in their website.

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Discover some more pioneering dub through Freegan Kolektiva:

  1. Various Artists – Strictly Analog Dub (2012)
  2. Dubmonger – Experiments In Dub (2012, self-released)
  3. Radikal Guru – The Rootsteppa 
  4. Goli & Ashburner / RSD / Alpha Steppa – Get Up (2011, Steppas Records)
  5. Shanti D & Mayd Hubb – Politik 7″ (2012, Dubatriation Records)

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