steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human

"Like Ten Feet Tall" CD

Broken Twilight

Genre: dub, electronic

Aug 2008

The dub genre has certainly produced its fair share of treasures - everything from King Tubby to Bill Laswell - which is quite the mean feat for a genre of its unmistakable homogeneity. Still, there is something queasily singular about the genre to those who haven't immersed themselves in it. Like the three chords of garage rock or the trademark breakbeat loop, the iconic dub bassline makes the whole genre seem to outsiders like mere variations upon a theme. It can be pleasant - even damn fun - but memorable? Rarely. And despite my delusions of critical grandeur, I must admit my appreciation of dub is at a relative infancy. Still, slapping Like Ten Feet Tall in the stereo and sending it for a whirl, I am taken aback by how impressed I am.

A collaboration between percussionist Clearly Human (Jason Falk) and everything-else-ist Loudspeaker Speaker (Chad Imes), Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human has produced an instrumental dub trip heavy on atmosphere. Particularly impressive are the electronic waves and guitar lines of "When Square Waves Cry" and the rapidly metamorphosing structure of ironically-named "No Change." What is most striking about these nine tracks is their indelible ability to hook you - despite being a dub release, Like Ten Feet Tall is a constantly evolving and frequently surprising journey. Seriously, this is the type of stuff that has you continuously edging your volume knob in an effort to soak up all the goodness. The startling effect of the disc owes a lot to the fabulously crisp production values and tight technical prowess behind the music, but can be largely attributed to the songwriting, which manages atmospheric and melodic variety within the constraints of dub music's characteristically laidback flow.

As may be fairly obvious now, I am fairly impressed with this album. One curious thing that I've noticed is that I have trouble grasping Like Ten Feet Tall as one cohesive entity. It covers a fair amount of ground over its thirty minute duration, and hence it is difficult to get a working grasp on its logical progression; whether this is a problem per se, or simply a fact, is up for debate. As it is, Loudspeaker Speaker Meets Clearly Human have produced a marvelous dub record that ranks among the finest I've heard from the genre. Curious readers are urged to give this a listen - and make sure to play it loud when you do.



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Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 9 tracks, distributed by CD Baby, released 2008]