For the best part of two decades now, South London Afro-Dub legends Soothsayers have been preaching their politically charged good vibrations to a growing and loyal fan base. Their live shows are legendary and vary from off-the-cuff community friendly gigs in Brixton, to festival headline slots and tours across Europe and beyond.
Having released their seventh album, entitled Tradition, on Wah Wah 45s last summer to much critical acclaim, 2019 sees a number of well respected and up-and-coming producers re-interpret the album in their own, unique ways.
First up is tabla player and producer Sarathy Korwar whose collaborations with Shabaka Hutchings, Arun Gosh and Hieroglyphic Being are well known and rmuch loved, and whose three album releases transcend jazz, spoken word, classical and electronica.
Stuttering Drums, Lonesome Brass
It’s no surprise then that when Sarathy remixes a track, you get something layered, complicated and very beautiful indeed. His re-working of Soothsayers’ version of Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic perfectly pitches Cornell Campbell’s inviting vocal against stuttering drums, lonesome brass and one seriously heavy bass-line. As the track progresses, these elements get slowly more twisted and the result is a sonorous yet joyful sound, all of Sarathy’s making!
Also in the mix are two young South London producers, one bass player and one drummer, who take on a couple of the album’s finest original tunes. Rising star Wu-Lu, AKA Miles Roman-Hopcraft, delivers a typically fuzzy, sparse and dubbed out re-working of Heart Rules Head that should keep the new generation of head-nodders more than satisfied. Elsewhere, drummer, producer, graphic designer, one quarter of The Expansions and one third of record label Albert’s Favourites, Jonny Drop, gives album favourite, Take Me High, a shuffling, life-affirming re-vision that allows the uplifting vocals to breathe, whilst adding solid beats, dubby effects and positive keys.
Deep House Re-do
Other relative newcomers to the scene are East London tropical collective Village Cuts, who produce a skanking four-to-the-floor re-work of Good Vibration that’s already getting some decent dance floor play; London/Paris based duo Mytron & Ofofo, who make pop-inflected disco for open minds, and come through here with a chunky mid-tempo stomper as they remix the Afrobeat flavoured Fela Kuti cover Sleepwalking (Black Man’s Cry); Argentinian beat-maker Lagartijeando, who provides a stunning slo-mo samba version of the gorgeous Watching The Stars; and a couple more young, upstarts from London town – the highly rated broken beat influenced Ben Hauke (with his club friendly version of Dis & Dat) and new Wah Wah 45s family member Hoffy with his swirling deep house re-do of the album’s title track.
There’s room for a couple of the old guard in there too though, as we revisit Fila Brazillia legend Steve Cobby’s fantastic remix of Dis & Dat, as well as a dub version of the touching Goodnight Rico by reggae don Nick Manasseh and a bonus dub of the hugely popular Nothing Can Stop Us to boot.