Dub Colossus – Addis To Omega
(Echomaster EM001. CD review by Dan Bergsagel)
Although Dub Colossus made their name fusing Ethiopian music with reggae and funk, in this, their fourth album, band leader Nick Page has rung a change in focus: a departure from the home of Rastafari icon Haile Selassie I for a thorough exploration of Jamaican influenced sounds.
Addis to Omega is bursting with funk-influenced reggae and stripped back dub, brash dancehall, jumping ska, and sincere lethargic grooves.
The album opens with Nick Page’s alter ego Dubulah’s bold fuzzy bass and Joseph Cotton’s post-Rastafarian vocals on Boom Ka Boom (and the Dub Disciples). At first appearances a strong dancehall track, key changes and eerie chord progressions hint at further depth.
The record continues to feature prominent vocals, but Dub Colossus are at their strongest on their instrumental pieces Soft Power, Tale of 2 Cities, and the epic Orpheus Underground. Without the distraction of accomodating authentic vocals and traditional song structures a space is formed for composition, open improvisation and more profound mood changes.
Although recognisably following a reggae-based theme, the impressive and diverse collection of contributors on the release occasionally introduces a surprise. Natacha Atlas and Samy Bishai bring a more exotic sound on The Shape of Things to Come– a song more Arabian than Carribean – or the atmospheric A Voice Has Power featuring the mesmerising low rumbling vocal work of Albert Kuvezin.
Family Man and the title track give the brass contributors Horns of Negus time to develop classic long brass chordal lines, while the funky Fight Back provides opportunity for Ben Somers to channel Maceo in his tenor solo.
A well-executed exercise in reggae-fusion, Addis to Omega is a fifteen track journey through the many facets of its sub-genres. Afro-beat percussion and pentatonic Ethio-Jazz have been swapped for political lyrics, fast-paced reggae and clean dub. While Dub Colossus have undeniably changed musical tack, the original twists and large collective approach remain the same.