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World Music CD Reviews North American


Published May 2, 2006

Baboon Records

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa became so bored with day-to-day reality he created over 200 identities for himself, assuming a new style for each. Brooklyn-based bassist/producer/DJ Dub Gabriel is equally prolific, though not by tedium. His many alter-egos include the Qabbalah Steppers, Baraka Orchestra and Brooklyn Massive Sound System, as well as running Baboon Records and two weekly parties at the Lower East Side’s Kush, one dedicated to reggae, the other Middle Eastern grooves. Ascend borrows heavily from the latter, slightly from the former, and altogether from a unique collage of deeply rhythmic percussion and tripped-outer-spaced-in horns, drones and synths. “Urban Mystic” blows through a warm, fuzzy breakbeaten air, while “Celebrate” is a hypnotic jam worthy of Gnawa trance. “Element Breaths” finds darkly technological landscapes spiced with birdcalls and cricket anthems, while the title track (which you’d almost expect airy, melodic) gets down and dirty with global-tinged nu-jazz rhythms. Predominantly instrumental (save Young Sand’s vocals on “New Sand”), chaotically meditative and bass-driven, Dub’s ascension plummets into an archaic subterfuge to emerge anew, the ghosts in his cauldron brewing brilliance.