Chad Dubz – Drained / Dubaholic [UNITY002]

In these times more than ever, we need unity. Such is the ethos driving Unity Through Sound, a label founded in this socially conscious commitment to bringing people together, and one born in a common celebration of sound system culture as not only a genre, but a tradition of general assembly infamous for its social power and subversive, counter-cultural history. Nevertheless, a young imprint that previously began with its first release from New Zealand bass wizard Headland, Unity Through Sound is back for UNITY002, this time featuring long-time scene veteran, Foundation Audio head-honcho and Bristolian bad-boy, Chad Dubz.

UNITY002 begins the proceedings with “Drained”, opting to offer listeners an unapologetic crash course in roots dubstep, and in doing so, definitely succeeds in delivering the serious sound system pressure we all crave to be hearing at the sonic depths of eighteen-inch speakers, somewhere in a distant dance. A brooding track from the onset, the percussive work of Drained is painted with a true dread; hi-hats dancing and convulsing as the track opens, whilst an eerie, interstellar synth bleeds its strange mood around the core of the tune, expanding until the main body of this track is unleashed with salvos of heavy, oscillating LFO attack. The track boasts a classic, early 00’s dubstep sensibility that is impressive as it remains authentic whilst also innovating the sound with a certain ‘lazy’ tread that is being favoured by newcomers in the scene. Chad Dubz also chooses to augment Drained with some tastefully placed ‘rough’ samples; the cocking of a shotgun barrel, a telephone ringing, slapstick combat effects, a bong bubbling, samples that do not feel like afterthoughts, but instead merge with the percussive kilt of the song to provide some essential ambience and groove that really elevates this track into becoming a more refined, honed work of sound system art.

The second track on UNITY002 is the aptly named “Dubaholic”; a celebration of sound system culture incarnated in a more dubwise experience than it’s precursor. Building and evolving with respect to steppa sensibility, born in dubstep’s notorious Caribbean roots, we are welcomed by an orchestra of sound; opening with a dusty sample, we immediately drift into that distant sunrise of percussion laden with echo, reverberation, and off-beat synths plonking with all the warm, rhythmic vitality of reggae. The focus on ambience and the layering of samples is minimal, allowing for a potency of bassweight administered when the tune finally delivers its spiritual evolution of dub into the dubstep canon with weighty groove and resounding, gritty bass stabs. A wailing alto sax also haunts the tune, adding a sombre mood that is also spliced and stuttered by Chad Dubz with taste and subtlety at different instances throughout. However, in terms of layering and composition, the tune is minimal perhaps to the point of sounding too hollow or shallow at times; indeed, it would be interesting to experience UNITY002 at a dance and see how fully realised it could become and what it could inspire in an audience, as I’m sure will be happening soon enough throughout Chad Dubz’s home turf in Bristol and surely around the UK. All in all, UNITY002 is a stellar release from Chad Dubz that is certain to be doing the rounds in forthcoming dances, just as Unity Through Sound are undoubtedly a new label to be closely watched in their aspirations as to a means of social change, as well as, sound system justice.

UNITY002 is released March 31st and available to pre-order from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, Juno, Intense Records and the Unity Through Sound Store.

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