Review: Compa – Shaka’s Truth / Atha Dub [ZamZam39]

With Shaka’s Truth / Atha Dub arriving just months after “Truth In Sound“, it’s clear that Compa is clocking serious studio time – and it’s paying off. The young producer has already appeared on some of dubstep’s most revered labels – Lion Charge Records, Boka Records, and Deep Medi – and now he can add another notch to his belt as he joins the prestigious roots-focused imprint ZamZam Sounds for their 39th release.

Given its title, you’d be forgiven for thinking “Shaka’s Truth” is a sentimental tribute track. Yes, it samples Jah Shaka’s sage voice (“the truth has no colour”), and the layers of reverb, sirens and minor harmonies nod to the dub legend’s music, but an unusually fitful bassline juddering in unison with an equally jerky drum beat provides the necessary power to keep the dancefloor moving. The flipside journeys from the ground roots to deep space; borrowing what sounds like the sci-fi effects from “Narabeh“, Compa adds an intergalactic twist to this dubwise record. The cosmic, distorted melodies waft in a haze above yet another hard-hitting bassline, but it’s that incessant drum kick that adds momentum and prevents the track becoming too esoteric.

Whilst his experimentation with roots music aligns with the ZamZam ethos, Compa doesn’t forgo the fervent quality of the low end frequencies that garnered him such a strong following. It’s easy to draw comparisons with other dub-centric artists such as Dubkasm and Ishan Sound, but it’s Compa’s juxtaposition of light and dark, otherworldly samples and rumbling bassweight, that sets him apart. Bristol might be best known for this particular strain of dubstep, but Lancashire-born Compa is demonstrating that it’s not only West-country artists flying the flag.

In the 3 years since his inaugural release on Deep Medi, Compa has been going from strength to strength, and though reception of his last release was reasonably lukewarm, there’s no denying he’s made an indelible mark on dubstep. The young producer continues to be a key player in pushing the genre forward, and whilst it may not quite meet the standard of his previous tracks (to be fair, it’s very hard to top “Alpha”), this offering is certainly enough to keep steppers happy.

ZamZam39 is released June 6th and available from Unearthed Sounds, Redeye, White Peach, Juno and Intense Records.

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