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[Off The Record]
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Dry and Heavy
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(BSI)

This Japanese band’s take on roots reggae is as fresh as it is unlikely. Dry (drummer Shigemoto Nanao) and Heavy (bassist Takeshi Akimoto) give the outfit its name, which plays both on a Burning Spear lyric and on reggae’s most legendary rhythm section, Sly and Robbie. The music is no less playful, loyal to slamming roots dub ćsthetics and at the same time bristling with wacky, high-tech ambiance. “Knife” delivers tough rock guitar over sledgehammer groove. “The Smoker’s Cough” also features tasty guitar work, but in a lighter dub lounge setting.

The tracks with vocals are standouts. Likkle Mai sings in English on the lover’s dub “Love Explosion,” and her high, airy voice adds a sweetly fragile — and distinctly Asian — element to the Jamaican sound. She’s even better on the sassy “Less Is More,” which plays like Jamaica circa 1979. “Private Plan” delivers a more aggressive male vocal from Ao Inoue; once again the guitar work is inventive and memorable. Dry and Heavy are both a throwback to a golden past and a stab at a fresh future for reggae and dub.

BY BANNING EYRE

 

 
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