At long last comes a full-length CD from Houston's socially conscious dancehall/ hip-hop/drum 'n' bass collective Dubtex. Sort of. The band is calling Bayou Bush Burners an EP on its Web site, but the record clocks in at a meaty 67 minutes. It's billed as an EP because only four of the tracks are of new studio material; ten live tracks recorded at the Rhythm Room and a bonus cut round out the album.
As with everything else about Dubtex, multiple layers of meaning dwell in the album's title -- they're referring to both Moses and our current president, whom they dislike. (Strongly. So strongly, in fact, that on "Bound and Tied," one of the live songs, they stop just short of threatening his life. "You wanna make your home here in the wild wild west / you might want to invest in a bullet-proof REWIND .Me not gon' say it, me not gon' say it, me love my freedom and my life ") Also, the name Dubtex refers to both dub music and a geographic location and is an acronym for Dropping Universal Beats to Elevate eXperience, with which they battle the forces of WAC, which stands for Weak and Corporate.
Pretty elevated, herb-scented stuff, but you can also damn sure dance to it. Musically, Dubtex is very much a keyboard-driven band -- the scratching of DJ Mercury, the drums and percussion of Rico Ramirez and Bryce, and Ras Mark's bass typically percolate under and/or skitter over positively narcotic keyboard riffs courtesy of Lion 808, who also takes a turn or two behind the drum kit. Fronting the band is Jredi Knight, who can both rap and sing well in a variety of voices ranging from a Burning Spear-like wail all the way down to a death metal growl. On the studio stuff, "Sinister" showcases Jredi's vocal versatility best, while Lion 808's most hypnotic riff follows on "Pressure Inna Jungle." Ramirez -- once the front man for Houston punks I End Result -- wraps his smoky, Caribbean-inflected baritone around the occasional lead vocal as well, as on "Free the Bad Mind," the last of the album's four studio cuts. (Three of which are repeated in the concert.)
The band had not planned in advance to release the concert recordings, so there's a loosey-goosey informal jam-session vibe here -- lots of shout-outs to the opening band, friends in the audience (which that night included the Odd Squad) and experiments like the hilarious dancehall death metal of "Don't Sweat Dem." Still, the stuff cooks from beginning to end. Dubtex has the most interesting and intricate rhythms of any band in town, and it's likely that even Republicans would feel compelled to shake their asses to these songs about burning Bushes.
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