Oh lord. Even just the name Rhythm and Sound sends shivers down my spine. You could write for hours trying to produce words that equal their sound: the echoes and hisses, the offcuts of long-forgotten productions, the repetition. It’s the sound of a renegade group of dead dub magicians jamming in an empty swimming pool, beckoning you, the listener, to step through to the other side and nod your head in a slow zombie waltz.
As the more out-and-out dub reggae façade of the Basic Channel operation, Rhythm and Sound have here collected 8 of their Burial Mix vinyl releases onto one CD: all vocal workouts (a counterpart to the instrumental ‘Versions’ released concurrently). For my money, the R & S vocal tracks are the stuff dreams are made of: a collection of sublime vocalists adding their talents as an extra instrument… lovingly coated in delay, spiritually overseen by Jah.
It’s amazing that such simple music can conjure up so many images in your head.
I see two stern-faced German men, dubwise technicians, sitting for hours behind an enormous console in a Berlin bunker, working tirelessly on each single compnent – constructing a supreme, heavyweight sound, executed with time, care and attention. Opener ‘King In My Empire’ is immediately arresting, swiftly followed by ‘Queen In My Empire’: a counterpart sung by a female vocalist. Paul St. Hilaire (Tikiman), The Chosen Brothers and Love Joy each step up to the mic, turning out their own troubles onto the grainy, hissing canvas sketched out by Mark Ernestus and Moritz van Oswald.
The grooves bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, but each occupies its own space: timeless and monolithic. The drums skip dutifully along, only the odd renegade snare ricocheting off into the dub void. The lyrics speak of struggle, emancipation, suffering.
It’s all fairly simple to understand: history, spirituality and process, nothing hidden. All you have to do is lock yourself away and let it happen.
I give this, jah-willing, a spiritually untouchable:
Rhythm and Sound w/ the artists - Burial Mix