Burnt Friedman & The NuDub Players: Can't Cool (2003)
Composer, arranger, producer, and performer (on drums, marimbas, vibes, synthesizer, piano, and other keyboards) Burnt Friedman normally blasts progressive rock and jazz apart, but when working with his NuDub Players ensemble he takes aim at de/constructing avant-garde reggae and dub. Whether inspired lunacy or just plain craziness, this third NuDub release, featuring trombonist Ian Perry, saxophonist Thomas Haas, and bassist August Engkildeamong twenty musicians from Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Detroit, Cape Town, Santiago de Chile, Cologne and Berlinis no doubt twisted.
The first recognizable strains of reggae don’t drift into these mixes until halfway through the fourth track, “Dublab Alert”and in general, making out the reggae roots of these gnarly dubs is generally close to impossible. “Fly Your Kite” does feature traditional Caribbean brass, but at disjointed places in the rhythm. The jerk-around of the opening “Fuck Back” speaks of broken-ness in rhythm from both the African tribal and western industrial perspectives, sounding so much more African than Caribbean that it almost does not fit with the rest of the set.
“Pater Nosser” partly consists of strange bird-like sounds that drunkenly wobble into and out of the mix while an accordion player wanders past just closely enough to hear. The Detroit collective His Name Is Alive joins Friedman to reprise their original on this groaning NuDub cover of “Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth.” “Get Things Strait” is creepy fun, sinisterly whispered raps quietly spreading like mutant algae throughout a murky, menacing lake.
This is difficult stuff. Friedman sort of ends up breaking apart and reassembling dub music. But dub music sort of breaks apart and reassembles reggae, so what the listener often hears is an abstraction of an abstraction, and it can be difficult to follow. But if you’ve ever wondered how a Teutonic experimental / avant-garde take on dub reggae would sound, here’s your answer. It is not sunny, feel-good island music. This is a dark, claustrophobic, unsettled and unsettling sound.
Track Listing: Fuck Back; Fly Your Kite; Pater Nosser; Dublab Alert; Life Is Worth Dying For; Get Things Strait; Real Abstraction; Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth; Designer Groove; Get Things Strait Dub; Five Star Group Travel; Consider a Bigger Wallet
Personnel: Burnt Friedman (drums, marimbas, vibes, synthesizer, piano, keyboards); Ian Perry (trombone); August Engkilde (double bass); Thomas Haas (saxophone); Theo Altenberg (vocals); Abi (vocals); Patrice (vocals); His Name is Alive
Record Label: Nonplace