There's a scene somewhere near the end of The Matrix trilogy where the motley rebel force in Zion celebrates victory with wild revelry in a cavern deep underground. It would be easy to imagine Heavyweight Dub Champion providing the soundtrack to such a party. That's what came to mind at last summer's Reggae, when the band took the stage after dark Saturday -- a trio of dreadlocked knob twirlers hidden behind a bank of synthesizers and boxes sprouting cables, the whole scene bathed in blue light. A rumbling, primeval beat emanated from the stage, punctuated by churning, dark loops of melody and bass notes so low they shook your whole body. The crowd writhed with pleasure.
While the Dub Champion sound has roots in the sonic manipulations of dub masters like King Tubby and Scientist, it's not dub reggae per se. There are hints of drum & bass, but this is a more primal, organic electronica -- ancient music from the future.
HDC began as a duo with Grant " Resurrector " Chambers and his music partner, known only as Patch . "We started the project in a little log cabin on a Colorado mountaintop," explained Resurrector, calling on his cell just before the band assembled for a weekend festival in the desert near Joshua Tree. "Patch and I were in a band together before that -- we started staying up all night working on music entrenched in the spirit of that place, the remote mountains, dirt roads, that kind of thing. We both came from a live music background, but we were experimenting with 4-track recording. At first there were no electronic instruments involved. We weren't very interested in electronic music in those days. We owned a bunch of tribal and ethnic instrument from around the world, as well as more traditional things like guitars and bass.
"Using this old 4-track we started making all these beats with the essential focus on rocking and shaking interdimensional spirit beings. It took form as what we now call `sonic shamanistic alchemy.' It's basically taking a range of vibrational materials, from tribal instruments to electronic instruments, and manipulating them through devices like tape delays and old analog stomp boxes to try to find the personality of each piece. In a show you'll hear maybe 50 different instruments. Everything you hear was played by us, a lot of them performed live, but most of them pre-recorded. The reason we do that is, we get what we want from an instrument and can then shape how the sound is presented. As we expanded out from the duo, we did the same kind of thing reaching out to people, looking for particular voices, particular vibrations that would contribute to the spectrum of sound we're trying to bring forth, a spectrum of liberational revolutionary energy. Whatever we do with a sound, we have a specific mission: to change the chemistry of the planet leading to unconditional liberation of the human race."
Ready to get liberated? Heavyweight Dub Champion hits Mazzotti's Friday, May 25, with special guest Dr. Israel (who performed with them at Reggae) along for the ride. In August the whole crew returns for Reggae Rising.
London-born rapper Richard " Slick Rick " Walters, a seminal figure in hip hop, plays at Indigo Thursday, May 24. Known for the eye patch he's worn since he lost an eye as a child and for the British lilt in his voice, Slick Rick hit the big time in the '80s, scoring major hits with "La Di Da Di" and "Children's Story," streetwise story-telling raps recorded with human beat box Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew. If old-school hip hop is your thing, see him while you can -- there's a pretty good chance this will be the last time Slick Rick will play locally. At the height of his fame in 1990, Walters was involved in a shooting incident. He pleaded guilty to assault and weapons charges and did his time, two years in a New York prison, only to be thrown back in jail for three years while battling Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) authorities who tried to deport him as a dangerous felon. (Even though he'd moved to the Bronx when he was 10 years old, Walters never became a U.S. citizen.) Lawyers have been fighting the case ever since and with the Feds tightening the screws post-9/11, it looks like he may be sent back to England any time now.
That same night Slick Rick is at the Indigo, Junior Toots , son of Toots Hibbert of Maytals fame, plays across town at the Red Fox Tavern offering irie chants from his latest, Crown of Fire .
The EP that showed up in my mailbox last week is the essence of indie rock: A silk-screened cardboard cover holds a home-burned disc with the title, Heart Machine , hand-stamped on the disc. The credits note, "all songs by mike mantillas," but it was only the accompanying note from local rocker Matt Jackson that identified the group as Rademacher , who I've since learned are from Fresno. I slipped it in my car stereo and left it there for days listening to the four songs over and over. Ringing guitars pull the songs along as vocalist Malcolm Sosa sings of troubled relationships, but not in a depressing way. What do they sound like? Just a bit like the Talking Heads or maybe a less-dark White Stripes, but like the best bands they mainly sound like themselves. Catch them when their Northwest tour with L.A. trio The Happy Hollows hits the Pearl Friday. Also on the bill: locals The Invasions , and Deric Mendes joined by Matt Jackson. (BTW, Deric may be out of work now that Sacred Grounds has closed. Need a singing barista?)
A last minute alert came in from Andy of Strix Vega : "We're playing with The Broken Hearts and The Tao Jonesers this Saturday the 26th at Blue Lake's Logger Bar (unfortunately in competition with The Rubberneckers)." Truth is, Julia of the Hearts told me about the show, the Hearts' first with a new bassist (whose name I've forgotten), but the reminder helped. The Rubberneckers show is at the Jambalaya with their country punk friends Sid and Fancy from Eugene. When I checked my MySpace this morning I found a bulletin from S&F steering me to a newly posted song, "Old Crow," a good one that kind of reminds me of The 'Neckers, which may explain why they're playing together.
Kinetic Rutabaga Queens Mayor Harmony , future prez Shaye and media maven Monica deserve kudos for seeing to it that the glory rolls on this weekend. I'm not sure how official it is, but the Boiler Room is calling this Saturday's ladies' night the Rutabaga Queens Kinetic Party . The Mirrors , a self-described lyrical alternative rock band from Hollywood, is playing that night. I have to say, after listening to a couple of their tracks on MySpace I'm uncertain what they are an alternative to.
Monday is Memorial Day, a national holiday honoring those who have died in our wars that dates back to the period following the American Civil War, when it was called Decoration Day. It's appropriate that songwriter Kristy Krüger plays at the Jambalaya that night, the first of three consecutive shows in Humboldt (she's at Six Rivers Tuesday and at the Pearl Wednesday). Kristy set a goal for herself following the death of her brother, Lt. Col. Eric Krüger, a career soldier killed in Baghdad in November 2006 when an IED blew up near his vehicle. Her plan is to spend the next two years traveling the United States performing memorial concerts in all 50 states to help establish a fund for her fallen brother's four children -- and also, as she explains on her webpage, "sharing the story of my family, and raising awareness of the war in Iraq. Since he died in the name of this country, I'd like the country to know his name. And I'd like to see America, the whole thing. I'd like to see what he died for."