New York-based instrumental metal and dub band Dub Trio have captured all the strengths of their sophisticated sound with the release of their third – and first live – album, Cool Out And Coexist (ROIR Records).
This highly respected and in-demand three-man band is made up of DP Holmes on guitar/keys, Stu Brooks on bass/keys, and Joe Tomino on the skins/percussion. Since they came on the scene in 2004 with their debut full-length Exploring The Dangers Of, Dub Trio has shared the stage or recorded with some of the biggest pop and hip-hop stars in the world. Such big names include The Fugees, 50 Cent, Mos Def, Mobb Deep, Bo Rice and Soulive.
But that's not all. Over the last year or so, they opened for hard rock heavyweights Clutch, Bad Brains during CBGB's closing week, Skindred, and more recently for fellow New York metal band Helmet. The trio also shared the stage with The Wailers, Meat Beat Manifesto, Yellowman, Cat Empire, and Prefuse 73 in recent years. In 2006, they recorded the song "Not Alone" with Mike Patton (Faith No More) for their sophomore record New Heavy and Patton's own Peeping Tom project.
So how did an instrumental group that is still pretty much under the radar get to play with such a diverse group of big name artists in a short period of time? Luck, connections and word of mouth all sound like plausible explanations. However, what you really have to do is experience their live show – I did in March – and you'll get a true sense of just how buzzworthy these guys are.
Recorded February 19th and 20th, 2007 at the Union Pool in Brooklyn, NY, COAC has the sound quality of a studio album – audience applause is kept to a minimum volume – but captures all the action and intensity of a DT live show.
For a three-man band, Dub Trio's sound is massive. Holmes's crunchy, sometimes noisy guitars and digitally delayed roots reggae riddims are out of this world; Brooks's bass lines are deep and heavy as f*ck and Tomino's drumming is a dynamic mix of explosive metal insanity and trippy, effects-laden percussion. In other words, it's dub-tastic.
Dub Trio's work is so versatile that it has been compared to the likes of Bad Brains, Helmet, Sly & Robbie, and King Tubby (the late dub master who is also credited as one of the pioneers of the "remix"). It's a palette drawn from familiar genres many of you grew up with. Mixing everything from metal, jazz, noise, punk, dub, roots reggae and electronica, DT is the United Nations of underground music, only it doesn't need to be reformed or strengthened as a body. The band is in fine form, as is.
The title track, with its rapid-fire drum attack starts like your typical modern day metal ditty, but then everything changes in an instant, with Brooks's bass taking over the lead melody for the dub section, followed by ambient-sounding guitar work by Holmes. The epic, six-minute collage then ends with some serious thrash metal (just the way you imagined it).
"One Man Tag Crew" is a furious mishmash of dub and Bad Brains-ish punk – call it "dunk" (ok, maybe not). Elsewhere, for spacious tracks like "Casting Out The Nines," picture Sigur Ros with a dub rhythm section.
"Drive By Dub" is one of the most pure dub/reggae tracks on the record, and it is also the quietest, with a somber melodica solo midway through, courtesy of drummer Joe Tomino. Of course, coming right after the considerably rowdier "Jack Bauer," the track's contrast is apparent and at the more than halfway point of the disc, considered a breather, a chill tune.
If you're still wondering how much of it is hard rock and how much is dub, it is more rock than dub. However, the blending of different styles of music, the unpredictability of how and when Dub Trio jumps from one genre to the other and back again is an exciting, mind-blowing listening experience.
Overall, Cool Out And Coexist is hands down one of the coolest albums of 2007 and should make any true music lover's year-end list. If you think you've found and listened to all the good music there is in 2007, think again. This live CD might just be the most exciting 47 minutes you've heard in a long while. It is highly recommended.