Posted by: outroversion | October 7, 2011

Music in Oxford: Dubwiser- A Crack In Paradise

Dubwiser - A Crack In Paradise

While the weather is starting to become a little less ridiculously hot, reggae can no longer be used as the background to a barbecue or the soundtrack to a long hubbly-bubbly summer’s night. Instead, it’s the nostalgia of a season lost, and while the percussion and guitar-backed ska reggae of the seventies is all well and good – and of course very much evident in Dubwiser’s music – it is, after all, 2011. So, there are electronic elements as well as bass aplenty, more akin to The (brilliant) Cat Empire than The Wailers. Technically, I didn’t mention Bob Marley there, but trying not to is like reviewing a swing album and not referencing Sinatra.

Dynamic frontman Jonas Torrance, who we are assured is a local Rasta Legend, covers more than the expected topics – there’s talk of politics, spiritualism, love and segregation. These are all things that other genres tend to skirt around, but with reggae they can be refreshingly counted upon, and they are often maturely and accurately discussed with a very welcome open mind. Apart from the precision of the topics discussed, the most striking moments of Torrance’s lyricism are the couplet of futuristic and, indeed, apocalyptic imagery that are noteable early on, and strangely modern references to things like YouTube. It’s like Michael Buble singing about Twitter.

‘Ride Your Life Like a Bicycle’ is a pretty neat message, and fairly simplistic, which makes it feel good; ride past the bad things, stop at the good, feel the splendour of nature around you, if you fall off, get the hell back on. On ‘Slowly’ we’re treated to another element rare of typical reggae – female vocals, from Agnieszka, who followers may remember closing the 2001 album A New Millenium of Dub on Atom X – though you may be forgiven if that passed you by. Dubwiser have been around way longer than you might think, but to pin them down on dates would be some acheivement: I’ve seen articles referring to them forming in the early 90s, as well as this album being their debut… Take your pick!

There’s rapping and there’s patois, and both are used sparingly and intelligently, and strangely, both seem to be solely reserved for the second half of the record. When they are pulled out, it’s for maximum effect. The second half is where the musical heartbeat slows down, as the band’s breaths become fuller and deeper. The pace slows way down and things become less cerebral, as the night draws on, time gets fast and everything else gets slower. It’s time to talk about the universe, and togetherness, which brings us to the remix of ‘U Cannot Rule’, track 15 and, as far as I noticed, the first mention of the Rastafari universal pronoun of I & I.

This album, clocking in at 73 minutes, is best looked at in two parts: the second half is a smokey, supine, more typical reggae sound, perfect to soundtrack the embers of the night; in contrast to the first, which showcases some driven and passionate observations on the modern world, and the people that help nurture and destroy it. It’s a good 40 minutes that emplore you to pay attention to the gospel of Jonas Torrance and Dubwiser.

As I end this review, it has officially started raining. I’m not saying ‘buy this album before it’s too late’, but get it while you still remember what warmth feels like.

Dubwiser

By Simon Outroversion

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