Patterns of War – Dr. Israel
Vocalist/musician/arranger Dr. Israel's bumpy career has received a huge helping hand recently. His recent affiliation with one of dub's greatest havens, ROIR Records, is like a dose of nitrous to the current dub community. ROIR releases a steadier flow of dub-format music than any other label I’ve seen, and the output seems to be focused on strict quality and creativity. Dr. Israel’s Patterns of War leaks from the same vein.
Patterns of War braids influences such as Raga-based hand percussion (“Tetze” and “One”), the rock anger of “Interference” (with guests Systemwide) and the hip-hop beats (with a Lynton-Kwesi-Johnson vocal twist on the title track). The R&B tinge in vocalist Lady K’s voice throughout the album and the omnipresent reggae influence is strong from start to end.
Most of the tracks hold some political/social commentary. “Tetze” — Hebrew for “get out" — is chanted repeatedly during the song of the samename. “Dread Inna Babylon” reignites the call for African-rooted repatriation, while the title track rails against crooked politicians. The lean of “Sinsemillia” is an obvious one.
No matter the underlying approach to the individual tracks, they’ve all received a studio-dub waxing. Dark and thoughtful basslines drop and rip apart, leaving canyons of open air before being dialed back in and re-teased relentlessly. This dub approach leaves the music vacuous and beautiful, hinting at and then overtaking subtle melodies before giving them a facelift. Forms are ripped to shreds and restitched in high tribute.
“Tetze” is also included as a Quicktime video and is ROIR’s first music video ever. ROIR’s willingness to put such a trust in Dr. Israel’s catalogue is enough for me to assume that this man is going to grow on his newfound land. Hearing the album only confirms my assumption.