This album is a swirling reservoir of sonic complexity that is deceptive in its presentation. To continue the analogy of water, it has depths that are unseen by looking briefly at the surface, harmonically rich and expertly arranged, there are new discoveries with each listen.
[Release page] The Quasi Dub Development is a strange and intriguing project, sprung from the minds of German musician F.S. Blumm and Lucca Fadda. F.S.Blumm is a prolific German composer/producer of gentle instrumental music and Lucca Fadda is a horn-blowing jazz and electronica artist from New York. The idea was conceived whilst the pair were performing some work they had collaborated on in a Sardinian church (where else?). They both realised they shared a love of dub music and decided it would be an interesting idea to create some of their own with co-collaborator Alessandro Coronas on drums. They also reasoned that they would use a tuba, trumpet and saxophone along with drums, a bass and various electro acoustic elements in their compositions. As their label says:
“The idea: to replace dub’s essential bass with the tuba, to replace the tuba with a modulated trumpet, to replace Jamaica with Sardinia. Then add all this to those dreaded bricolage sounds of Blumm… forcing a deliberate confusion to take hold!”
The resulting album, entitled Limousine For The Guillotine lives up to the expectation placed upon it by the concept, something that doesn’t always happen with such conceptual works. The brass section resonate beautifully with groove and texture. They are used spaciously and effectively to work through infectious riffs, leaving space for the intricate and subtle soundscapes that bubble and blip their way subliminally through the tracks. The first three tracks are very laid back, concentrating on the ambience created by the sparse electronica and minimal melody. Track four – “Loose Leach” – however kicks into another gear, with the tuba taking the all important bass line and the rest of the brass section providing harmonically rich riffs and stabs. The drums provide a shuffling beat that, while still maintaining the requisite laid back feel of dub, definitely adds a noticeable urge to tap your feet. This track is a real breath of fresh air, providing a completely different approach to a familiar genre, injecting a sense of energy and excitement that heretofore on this album had been absent. As is inevitable with a work like this, there is a crossover between several styles of music at play. Hints of jazz, electronica, ambient, swing and more are all evident, but all are kept within the remit of the original concept of dub music.
After the precedent of “Loose Leach,” the brass section becomes much more prominent in the following tracks, which can only be a good thing as it is a feature of this project that makes it stand out as different from anything else I’ve heard. “Elastic Plastic” is a particular favourite; understated riffs saturated with delay groove out of the hectic backdrop of glitchy disjointed clicks and squeaks and eventually take precedence as the main feature of the track. All the instruments are harmonizing the same riff, but the textural effect of the layers afforded by the various instruments in the section are an absolute joy for the ear drums.
This album is a swirling reservoir of sonic complexity that is deceptive in its presentation. To continue the analogy of water, it has depths that are unseen by looking briefly at the surface, harmonically rich and expertly arranged, there are new discoveries with each listen. If I were to offer a criticism however, it would be that it is a little too long and some of the added remixes don’t do it any favours. This however is my opinion, but by track eighteen I can’t help feeling that the whole thing has been stretched a little. That said, it is a wonderful body of music, fresh, exciting, interesting, original and with a good balance of serious edginess and solid grooves. Essential listening for anyone with a musicians ear and an interest in musical exploration. Not a stuffy beard stroking conceptual album, but a foot tapping eyebrow raising jaunt into new territories.