And so to the home of reggae: Sweden. Specifically, to Uppsala, the heartbeat of Scandinavia's reggae community, home to the massive Uppsala Reggae Festival and, far more importantly, birthplace of one Joel Eriksson - who prefers to be known as Doobie. In All Kinda Wall, this non-Techno Viking* has produced an album that should appeal to fans of 70s/80s-style traditional reggae, and which has already appealed to the listeners of the Portuguese ZonaReGGae radio show, who voted it the best roots revival album of 2009.
Over the past four years, Doobie has collaborated online with many different vocalists and wound up with 14 tracks that explore lightweight topics such as religion, politics, violence, social inequality, drugs (in short, Babylon), all addressed in a forthright and confrontational manner. Fortunately, the songs will also have your ears bobbing blissfully on a sea of dub, although I must point out that some of the tracks, particularly the vocals, seem to be mastered at quite a high volume. Even more fortunately for those who would rather not listen to the lyrics, there will be a chance for you to straighten your bowties and enjoy the instrumentals, the whole instrumentals and nothing but the instrumentals. Explanation at the end of the review.
At this point I'd like to slap an mp3 in your hand to justify my choice of album, but Dubkey, the sp(l)iffing netlabel responsible for All Kinda Wall's distribution, doesn't provide anything so old-fashioned as plain old sounds. No, it's time for an exceptionally violent video hosted at Myspace.
WARNING: This video features real and graphic violence from war footage. Watch at your own risk. If you don't want to watch Amsie Brown - Check Out, you'll have to settle for the zipped album at the end of this post.
The relationship between the music and its message is strikingly paradoxical: traditional reggae is probably the most conservative of musical genres, yet the philosophy is liberal, even cleaving to libertarianism in places. Walk around the planet and you'll end up where you started.
Doobie is to be complimented in his use of software to recreate the feel of thirty-year-old reggae and his use of the net to gather a roster of artists - who says computer music is impersonal? I'm even more impressed with the way he has bedded the vocals into his riddims. Of course, I speak from experience (and an ivory tower) because I've heard the instrumentals. You can, too, because Dubkey have released All Kinda Riddims, for those music lovers who don't care for the vocals. The new album cover will make Photoshop fans smile:
If you enjoy All Kinda Wall/Riddims, (and I did) please consider sending a "thank you" email to DoobieSounds and/or Dubkey. Both albums are issued under a Creative Commons licence, meaning that you can share them with your friends however you like, although it might be best if you all sat on the floor in a circle and passed a burned CD around until everyone has had their fill. Just don't hog it.
DoobieSounds - All Kinda Wall (link to zipped album)