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Published: 2012/11/28
by Brian Robbins

Super Hi-Fi
Dub To The Bone

Electric Cowbell Records

Combine the vintage vibe of Jamaican trombone legend Don Drummond with the modern-day world grooves of the Matic Horns – infuse the whole works with some time-capsuled good smoke from the Black Ark – and you’ll come close to the sound of the debut album from NYC’s Super Hi-Fi, Dub To The Bone.

The twin trombones of Alex Asher (People’s Champs) and Ryan Snow (Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds) are the core of Super Hi-Fi’s sound – whether it be a solidly-stated melody (“Tri Tro Tro”), combination punches of horn (“Washingtonian” with guest Adam Dotson adding a third trombone to the mix), or even ‘boned-out skank rhythms (dig the opening chunka-chunkas of “Neolithic” before they hand off to the guitar). If you’re unfamiliar with the trombone in a reggae/dub setting, then be prepared for a treat. The big horn lends itself to this music in the most natural of ways: long tones flow like fat, thick liquid – and when pressed, the trombone takes on a rumble that’s as warm and pleasing as an overdriven tube amp. Asher and Snow are masters of natural ebb and flow to begin with; the sound manipulation by the various mixers and remixers involved on the album’s eight cuts only adds to the effect. (The basic tracks on Dub To The Bone were recorded by Brooklyn’s Prince Polo.)

The album’s production, songwriting, and massive basswomp are all courtesy of Ezra Gale, whose original vision of a horn-driven, dubbed-out house party band first birthed Super Hi-Fi back in 2010. Check out his work on tracks like “Q Street” (a Subatomic Sound System remix) where he delivers big, round bubbles of bass with the most delicate of touches; the midnight funk of the Victor Rice-remixed “Single Payer”; or the gauzy wallop of “We Will begin Again” (remixed by DJ Trainwreck). Gale’s rhythm partner for much of the album is a live dub veteran himself: Dub Is A Weapon’s Madhu Siddappa. Todd Perlmutter also handles drum chores on a couple of tracks, while Foluso Mimy sits in on percussion on “Tri Tro Tro”.

Rounding out the core band is guitarist Will Graefe, who shines on everything from dead-on roots rhythms to full-throttle punkish charge (“Tri Tro Tro”) to moments of spacey jazziness (listen for the lovely glide he pulls off during the outro of “Neolithic”). Chris Mulhauser applies extra touches of six-string here and there, including the shimmery “We Will begin Again”.

Both a great way to introduce dub virgins to the genre and tickle the rhythm bones of seasoned roots reggae fans, Dub To The Bone is a tasty mix of organic grooves and well-applied studio magic. You may find it hard to believe this music came from the souls, hearts, fingers, and lips of some lads from New York, but it’s the truth.

Burrow into the ‘bone.

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