'Spirits Under Pressure' (LP/CD)
So you spend all your time and money working on an album I mean hours in a studio worrying if a kick drum is loud enough, while your spars are out enjoying themselves. You release the album yourself; some bastard freelancer gives it two stars (ahem) but it gets favourable reviews elsewhere. It's then followed with another, which is better so more critical acclaim but a lack of availability means that this success is not entirely reflected commercially. A book titled 'So you want to be a Recording Artist' could have easily been issued with this release.
Anyway, after what's commonly termed the difficult second album this is certainly the DFA's most widely accessible set of tunes yet. This is not to say that Kelvin has gone all Robert Miles on us, but the tracks are more varied and a few more components are fed into the blender. 'Dub of Angels' for example, full of ecclesiastical samples, is what Enigma might have sounded like if they grew up on a healthy diet of dub, and the drum & bass influenced 'In a Hard Place' and 'Life's Tumbling Beats' keep it all firmly in tune with the zeitgeist. Another first is the vocal track, 'Are You Satisfied?', where the song tells the story of a manipulative [and manipulated] small-time crack dealer, over a thunderous, rolling bass groove. The album's mood is quite dark throughout and the tracks are punctuated with the trademark synth horns and spoken snippets which reflect a media-conscious worldview. A common DFA thread seems to be the collision of the old school and the new, and it's rarely as seamless as this.
'Spirits under Pressure' (LP/CD)
The third instalment in Dub Funk's story finds them mixing up the sounds of the Nineties urban frontline with some cool roots. Like Dennis Bovell rolling up beats with Rockers Hi-Fi, as the jungle massive give maximum props, when it works on ('In A Hard Place', 'Are you Satisfied' and 'Style of Champions') it's an off-kilter dub killer.
'Spirits Under Pressure'
Who knocked down my studio door? asked a bemused voice. So begins the third long player from the DFA. An instrumental of jazzy drum & bass soon turns into the dubby; piano filled Death Trap. Showing the darker side of the Association, a man pleads,'Don t shoot him!' repeatedly over a heavy bassline, interspersed with samples from gangster movies. In total contrast, 'Dub of Angels' is fully of heavenly organs, with a choir of monks chanting over the top. Changing track again, the only full vocal track 'Are you Satisfied?' discusses the life of a small town crack dealer. 'You're in the business of desperate minds, and you re doing fine/Are you satisfied?' the DFA asks.
Losing momentum for a while during the mid section, the dub hip-hop of 'African Theory' ends the album strongly. If you want respect you ve got to earn it we're told on 'Black City Dread'. It's obvious the DFA have worked hard to create this highly individual collection of reggae, dance and dope beats. Respect is due.
'Spirits under Pressure' (LP/CD)
Spirits under Pressure is surprisingly the DFA's third album. Loose collectives within London's dub reggae scene DFA have been quietly working away on their own unique fusion of sounds for the past few years. With 'Spirits Under Pressure' the DFA have pushed the boundaries further adding a drum n bass flavour to the mix. However there's still a wide range of beats here with hip hop, jazz and reggae rhythms underpinning their occasionally socially conscious vocal message. Here is evidence of an outfit exploring experimental avenues and flying in the face of fashion.