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Raver Reviews: Zion I Kings ‘Dub In Zion’ (2017)

Simply put, Zion I Kings are not just the finest collective of reggae musicians in the world, or the finest production team in the world, they are a force of nature.  Undoubtedly the tightest, most innovative, and most prolific reggae ensemble since the Roots Radics, this Grammy-nominated production team has completely upended the reggae world, redefining the definition of the “authentic reggae sound.”  Their forthcoming dub album titled Dub In Zion is a phenomenal set which underscores the group’s dominance over the modern roots landscape.

Zion I Kings (ZIK) is the production triumvirate of Laurent “Tippy-I” Alfred, Andrew “Moon” Bain of Lustre Kings and David “Jah D” Goldfine” of Zion High Productions.  These three talented multi-instrumentalists have produced some of the finest, most indelible reggae albums of the past fifteen years from artists like Midnite, Akae Beka, Dezarie, Abja, Lutan Fyah, Perfect Giddimani, Yami Bolo, Jahdan Blakkamore, Ras Attitude, Ras Batch, Glen Washington, Pressure, and Ziggi Recado.

Dub In Zion is Volume II in the ZIK’s dub series. It contains eight previously unreleased instrumentals and two tracks which are dub versions of tunes which appear on Lutan Fyah’s new album Music Never Dies (“Test A Money” and “Bredren Still”).  This latest edition follows on the success of the 2016 Dub In Style tribute to legendary Roots Radics drummer Style Scott.  Of course the album features instrumentation from the ZIK band, the finest collection of players recording and touring in reggae today.  While many associate ZIK with the St. Croix reggae movement, the ZIK band is a diverse set of multi-talented musicians hailing from the U.S., Virgin Islands, and yes, Jamaica.  In fact, as Jah David pointed out in our recent interview, the backbone of the band is Jamaican Lloyd “Junior” Richards, a world-renowned drummer and son of famed Jamaican reggae legend Lloyd “Richard Ace” Richards, a founding member of the Sound Dimension, Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One house band.

Dub In Zion kicks off with the weighty “Babylon Remove Dub” featuring a tight instrumental jazzed up with a whole host of unique dub effects including an old school phone ring sound effect wake up call.  “H.I.M. Teachings Dub” is an astounding dub track featuring Drew Keys’ hammering keyboard line married brilliantly with the bottom melody of the trombone. Keys’ contribution on this track is critical as it is a wholly new and unique keyboard sound that is rarely, if ever, used in reggae recordings.  The sound provides an Eastern vibe to the track which is more reminiscent of a style used in hip-hop recordings by producers like RZA or Bobby Digital – a real nice element of flair that makes this track truly memorable.  The tune also features relentless crucial kete hand drumming by Jah David, an element that is characteristic of many ZIK’s recordings.  In fact, the hand drumming is an element that is consistent throughout this set, used with great effect on tunes like “Iritical Repatriation Dub” (which features Andrew “Bassie” Campbell on kete drum).

In my humble opinion, the most crucial track in this set is “Incient Knowledge Dub,” a drum and bass showcase featuring the inimitable talents of Jah David and Junior Richards.  Jah David comes with a stupendous bass line on this track which also features sparse keys and a nice subtle melodica from Drew Keys.  The track has a boundless groove that is simply undeniable.  It has been on loop in my car for two days now.  “Eye Frequency Dub” gives the version treatment to a killer track from the forthcoming and highly-anticipated Arkaingelle project titled Tru Da Fyah.

Dub In Zion is signature ZIK as each track features the group’s distinctive sound – reverent, heavy and majestic – a remarkable marriage of the digital with the ancient.  Plenty of echo and delay touches weave in and out of the mixes, with brassy and moody horns and quirky, acoustic plucks crosscutting throughout. Other noteworthy selections include “Faithful Dub”  and “Into Law Dub”.

Dub In Zion is yet another solid, finely-produced album from the ZIK.  ZIK have assembled an impressive set of dub instrumentals for an album that will certainly exceed the high expectations of dub heads and reggae fans the world over.  With each successive release, ZIK continues to set a higher standard for reggae musicianship and production – a standard which is not often met by many in the game today.  As a lifelong dub reggae fan, all I can say is that I give thanks that I’m here to witness their works.

ZIK in action w/ Marlon Asher

Dub in Zion will be available for purchase everywhere on May 26, 2017.

(Large up the man they call @faddarootz AKA Ras Elliott AKA Elliott Leib of Zion High Productions/Zion I Kings for linking the I on this new release!)

Official Album MegaMix



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