King Midas Sound revive the lost heritage of the Dub Poets, a unique scene that combined gritty social realism with mellow Reggae vibes in 1980’s Britain. Roger Robinson’s hypnotic falsetto voice and the easy flowing music let the words speak for themselves. The ultimate chill-out album with a message.
King Midas Sound are poet Roger Robinson and musical partner Kevin Martin, better known to Dubstep fans as The Bug. Martin and Robinson previously released two singles together. Their debut album is far more than a collection of Dubstep influenced tracks, it is an extremely listenable record that brings to life a fascinating but shortlived facet of 80’s music and gives it a totally new spin. ‘Waiting For You’ opens the door to the secret world of the Dub Poets.
The prophetic warnings of the Dub poets shot to attention in the late 1970’s as Punks discovered Reggae and had their golden age in the early 1980’s in the melting pot of New Wave, Dub Reggae and anti-conservative movements. Thatcher’s Britain was Babylon and Dub Poets set out to educate, agitate and organise the sufferers with their tales of social realism. Racist violence, job discrimination, random police searches and many more examples of everyday prejudice were at the heart of the original Dub Poets’ songs.
The ultimate trilogy of Dub Poet albums is made up of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s ‘Forces Of Victory’ and ‘Bass Culture’ and Michael Smith’s ‘Mi Cyaan Believe It’. All three albums offer biting social realism set to smooth, polished Reggae rhythms that were strongly influenced by the then popular street sounds of UK Reggae hybrid Lovers Rock.
While both Johnson and Smith occasionally reflected on love, they were too caught up in the radical spirit of their day to dwell too much on intimate subjects. Their musical backing might have come courtesy of Lovers Rock pioneer Dennis Bovell and his studio gang of musicians, but the original Dub Poets left love to the hugely popular Lovers Rock singers like Sugar Minott, Gregory Isaacs, Janet Kay or Winston Reedy.
This is where King Midas Sound pick up the thread and spin their own brand of Dub poetry. Robinson and his musical partner Martin put intimacy back into Dub Poetry, creating songs about loves won and lost. Though ‘Waiting For You’ deals significantly more with the subject of losing rather than winning, the album still leaves you with a positive outlook despite the often dark undertones of its 13 highly personal tales.
That Robinson can apply his rhyming skills to issues beyond his immediate sphere becomes clear on ‘Earth A Kill Ya’, a grim warning that if you don’t respect the environment the result will eventually threaten your health. Robinson does not preach, he doesn’t even raise his voice. He doesn’t have to - The hypnotic, steady delivery lets the words speak all the louder for themselves.
The underlying message to ‘Waiting For You’, it is that you can eventually work through most things if you put your mind to it. King Midas Sound’s real achievement lies in the way this message is presented without the nagging glee of the ‘I’ve seen the light’ type of songwriter. It’s just honest take-it-or-leave-it music. Oh, and ‘Waiting For You’ sounds good as well, with its bass foundation, melodic swirls and metallic edges.
‘Waiting For You’ is due to be released on Hyperdub on 30th November 2009. Check out the King Midas Sound page on MySpace for audio samples from the album.