Newest Review: ... perhaps inevitably so given the nature of their day jobs, and together they effortlessly blend two very different musical worlds a... more
Cool out and co-exist with the Dub Trio
Cool Out And Coexist - Dub Trio
Member Name: vacuumgarden
Cool Out And Coexist - Dub Trio
Advantages: An inventive take on two genres of music that seldom meet.
Disadvantages: May not be to everyones taste.
Dub Trio are a 3-piece metal/punk/dub reggae fusion group signed to Mike Patton's Ipecac label, and like most of the artists on the roster they are perhaps a bit too obtuse and unconventional to ever have a hope of commercial success. As session musicians however, collectively their C.V. is impressive, and it includes artists such as Macy Gray, Mos Def and the Fugees. Band members D.P. Holmes, Stuart Brooks and Joe Tomino also worked with Patton himself on the 2006 Peeping Tom album, appeared with the group on the Conan O'Brien show and even took on touring duties. Make no mistake though - Dub Trio as a band in their own right are a very different prospect to any of their collaborations. Grafting Melvins/Helmet-style sludge riffs to ultra-chilled reggae grooves, the only other band that comes close are 1980's underground rasta-punks Bad Brains.
Cool Out & Co-Exist is the band's 2007 live album, and it's an intriguing listen. The group are very solid players individually, perhaps inevitably so given the nature of their day jobs, and together they effortlessly blend two very different musical worlds as seamlessly as you could reasonably expect. Sounding simultaneously tight and loose, intense and chilled - often shifting gears within a matter of seconds - they somehow bridge the gap between these two extremes in a way that sounds surprisingly comfortable.
The majority of songs follow a similar format - beginning with a head-meltingly heavy bombardment of riffs that rapidly build to an ear-splitting climax, the band suddenly (and often unexpectedly) drop into 'dub reggae mode', with reverb-laden drum parts, thick bass and some very trippy guitar work. Despite being a trio, they also manage to throw quite a few electronic samples into the mix, and I can only assume they have an array of pedals, keyboards or sequencers to hand as well. But the truly remarkable thing about this aspect of their music is that the sections sound authentically dub, and not at all like a rock band covering the genre (the Clash's cover of Police & Thieves being a prime example). More importantly, they don't ever sound out of their depth playing either genre, which is probably why the combination works so well.
Despite the at times frenetic nature of the band's music, Cool Out & Co-Exist is a remarkably light album. With no vocals giving the music thematic ballast, the group use their compositions as a platform for their sonic experimentation and jamming tendencies. The songs in this set are generally short, instrumental, hyper-kinetic affairs, and make unexpected turns throughout. That said, the music is more palatable than a lot of other Ipecac bands (such as Fantomas - who I think are great, but a lot of people find unlistenable), and you never really feel like the band are being unpredictable for the sake of unpredictability. Instead, you get the impression that these three talented musicians are using the group's format as an opportunity to flex their musical muscles, and create something original in the process. Whilst songs like Angel of Acceptance, Who Wants To Die? and Untitled lean more towards metal with a bit of dub thrown in for good measure, title track Cool Out & Co-Exist and Casting Out The Nines are more straightforward reggae compositions that utilise atmospheric and organic guitar tones to create mood and tension. These two tracks sound almost post-rock in parts, adding another dimension to the band's arsenal.
An engaging listen throughout, Cool Out & Co-exist successfully fuses metal and reggae to great effect. Although the formula on paper may appear limited, the band approach this not as a limiting influence on their musicianship, but as a springboard for the interplay and partisan band dynamic inherent here. The album is an excellent live document of the group's performance, with a near-perfect mix and some inventive playing. Whilst not for everyone, this album can be considered an original and refreshing take on two genres that rarely meet, and as such it deserves the chance to be heard. If you're looking for something a bit left-field but not completely crazy, you could do a lot worse than what's on offer here.
Summary: Cool Out & Co-exist is a highly original musical experience.