Emerging out of Denver, John “Soulacybin” LaBoone makes squishy alien dub for belly dancers, synth geeks, New-Age hippies and anyone who thinks there’s no such thing as too much delay.
Although firmly rooted in Jamaican organ-led dub, Soulacybin doesn’t like to stick to any strict dub rules on his new album, Gratitude. Alien Life, for example, has more of a swing rhythm to it than most things by Lee “Scratch” Perry, and at one point it unexpectedly transforms into a four-on-the-floor stomper.
In fact, Alien Life is the album’s centerpiece, with such a tight groove and infectious kick drum that John couldn’t help but stretch it to the 11-minute mark. His affinity for organic sounds and jam sessions show when he starts utilizing live guitar samples, but like most of the album, this is primarily cosmic future-whomp, coming from hours of turning the knobs on machines in order to see what curious noises come out.
When he plays this game on Gratitude, he discovers the sounds of worms wiggling through radioactive mud, robots struggling to speak through square waves, and disembodied ghost voices bringing a spiritual element to the whole affair. He’s sitting next to Bluetech in the dub world, except he’s probably taken way more mushrooms in his life.
Gratitude is a versatile work. It can recede into the background to create a sinister vibe for late-night lounges, or it can sit at the forefront of your consciousness, providing around 40 minutes of detail-heavy ear candy. Pick it up over on Soulacybin’s Bandcamp page if you’re ready to take one of the strongest chill pills of the year thus far.