Foshan Roots – Sky Warrior Dub
Dubophonic – digital download
With over 4,000 downloads and counting in its first week of release, I think it is fair to say that the Foshan Roots album ‘Sky Warrior Dub’ is causing a stir. What makes it more interesting is that it’s not a new set, it dates from 2012, and was originally produced for a label that does not even exist anymore!
So for my final post of 2017, in traditional ghosts of Christmas past style, I introduce Springline Records and Foshan Roots, a story that in true reggae style is a little complicated…
Reggae and dub label Springline Records ran from 2003 until 2012, releasing music on vinyl, tape and later in digital format. Its roster of artists mainly came from the UK underground and the house style was strongly influenced by the Jamaican roots music of the 70s. The sound paid homage to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark studio.
After ten years of production the label stopped its operations. All releases were discontinued and master recordings were lost or deliberately destroyed and deleted. The owner of the label Gibsy Rhodes decided to put an end to that musical adventure. It was a drastic move that further echoed the end of Perry’s Black Ark studio. Although I believe in this case it was the cost of running the label, with not many funds coming back the other way that did for it. Something I think a lot of labels will empathise with.
What is left nowadays is a very feint web footprint, mainly in the form of some articles and reviews which serve as a glimpse into a great label which unfortunately did not get the recognition it deserved. Luckily for us, Savvas Thomas (Dub Thomas) through his netlabel Dubophonic has linked up with Gibsy Rhodes and managed to retrieve some crucial tunes found forgotten on a hard disc which was saved from destruction. The goldmine includes dubplates, alternative cuts, demos and a few unreleased works, a serious treasure trove for the reggae fan.
So we have some background on Springline but who are Foshan Roots? Information is sketchy on the web, which is quite funny as we do expect everything to be available via Google! Luckily Facebook came through and Foshan Roots main men Brad Turner and Tom Dewey gave me a potted history of the band.
Brad and Tom first linked up when Tom answered an advert for a bass player to join a reggae band. Tom had moved to London a couple of years earlier from Wolverhampton and after the death of a close friend from the local music scene he was keen to make new links with like-minded musicians in the capital. Tom had some moderate success as a dub DJ in the midlands and Sheffield as part of the 4Series crew, but also had begun producing music through this collective.
The band Brad and Tom played in dissolved quite quickly and in late 2010 the first productions from the duo came about, recorded at Brad’s CAF studios in Ponders End. In 2011 a full dub album, also featuring Yabass was released on the Springline label, under the guise of Himperial Rockers entitled New Dub Evolution. The album was engineered and produced by Brad and mixed by Tom. From here the basis of a solid working relationship was formed.
After the Himperial Rockers project, the duo focused on steppers tunes aimed at the dub soundsystem circuit and here the Foshan Roots name was forged. Brad enlisted old school friends Chazbo and Culture Freeman to guest on a series of as yet unreleased dubplates and Tom invited Tim Heights to add keys and vocals to riddims. The project yielded popular dubs which were played on the Channel One soundsystem across the globe, notably a Dezzi D vocal cut entitled Lion Strength which was later released on 10” vinyl. (Copies are available from Discogs if you want to investigate)
Following the steppers focussed productions the duo moved to a more downbeat mood, producing the roots radical influenced tunes which form this newly released set. The bulk of these tunes were laid in 2012 and early 2013. At this point life takes over for Brad and Tom and children, studying, and new jobs occupy their time. But they still have time for reggae, check out Brad’s Creation Rockers project for a cracking track called ‘Drop It’. There is also good news for Foshan fans as the boys have recently started working on a new dub album.
The third player in this little story is netlabel Dubophonic and without them this release probably would never have seen the light of day. It seems fitting that to round this year off I go back to Dubophonic, as they released another of my favourite albums of the year. Back in May ‘Greetings from Planet Dub’ by Argentinian group Negritage was issued and like the Foshan album this collection was a great example of how you can make expressive and intricate dub music. You can read about it more fully in my review, it is a beautiful set and one I recommend you check out. Kudos to Dubophonic head honcho Dub Thomas for his part in this story and thanks to his drive we have a release to cherish. This probably isn’t possible but how about a vinyl release for Sky Warriors Dub, it looks like the demand is there!
So this post is not so much a review, but by putting together this three piece jigsaw I hope it will act as a signpost to where you can download a great dub album. One last important fact, most netlabels release their music for free and Sky Warrior Dub is no exception. So what is there to lose, download it now from the Dubophonic site and join the thousands who are discovering the serious heavy beats of Springline and Foshan.
Happy new year to all, if you like what you read here please share and help to grow this wonderful community…. Bless, Paper Lion