New Zion Swims 'Sunshine Seas' on Eclectic Dub Masterpiece From RareNoise Records [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt | May 12, 2016 06:07 PM EDT
(l-r) Cyro Baptista and Jamie Saft of New Zion invite you to swim their 'Sunshine Seas.' (Photo : Eleonora Albert)

Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista adds his snap, crackle and pop to this heavy underground dub CD of slinky beats called Sunshine Seas by New Zion on RareNoise Records. Jamie Saft -- composer, producer, keyboards, guitars, electric bass -- leads this quilt of a quintet through a patchwork of ancient yet futuristic sounds, glued together by electronics. It's a bumpy trip smoothed out by the blips and bleeps of what used to be known as microtonal dance music.

It's reggae, man. But it's also drum'n'bass music. It's hiphop without the raps. And, most of all, it's rub-a-dub-dub all the way.

Lee "Scratch" Perry, now 80, would love this. So do I. But it's not for everyone.

Opener "BrazilJah" is just a hypnotic groove that sets the scene. Baptista plays the cuica on "Chalice Pipe," the samba drum that sounds like the screech of a monkey. Saft softens his animalistic urges by playing some sweetly swaying bossa-nova acoustic guitar. The juxtaposition of such adds to the surrealistic nature of this project.

The two were in avant-garde composer John Zorn's band together. On "Ranking," Baptista plays a Jew's Harp like no one I've ever heard. This ancient instrument, said to be one of the oldest instruments in the world, has nothing to do with any one religion or ethnic group. It's the weird sound that Garth Hudson of The Band achieved throughout "Up On Cripple Creek." Here, it acts like a Greek chorus commenting upon the action.

Saft admits to being fascinated early on with the sounds that King Tubby [1941-1989] achieved who, for years, used the recording studio as his own personal instrument to crank out dozens of dub masterpieces in the '60s and '70s. Saft knows his way around those studio tricks like delays, reverbs, modulation devices, compression and saturation devices, handy dub tools to get just the right sound. You can hear it all on "Sunshine Seas." Take a dip.

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