Little Tempo Fire Blender

Little Tempo Fire Blender
The best dub album of the year, and it's only August. Japan has a 25-year history with reggae, and every few years bands make it to the worldwide stage. Now comes Little Tempo with one of the most original dub sounds ever created. This is actually their seventh album, but the first to receive worldwide distribution courtesy of Ryan Moore's M Records. Steel drums, pedal steel and clarinet (whose strangulated sound probably prompts the Sun Ra comparison on the cover) make for a most unusual front line. The steel pan in particular is a stroke of genius, able to sound both creepy and sunny depending on where it drops in. Creepiness rules the first few tunes: "Spearhead" and "Boggyman Walk," which recall early On-U Sound mostly for their fearlessness and impressionistic effects. "Mammoth Fuzz" is exactly that — metal bassists could take notes on the bottom end. By the time the fractured "Space Mambo" hits, the grooves start to perk up. The cheeriness of "Splash Metal” is a most calypsonian use of the steel pan, but that happy note drifts into yet more distorted rockers workouts. Ending things off is the high lonesome sound of "Love" — nothing but lap steel loveliness to provide a bittersweet closing statement. Fire Blender fully balances a love of the origins of dub and excels at creating its own sonic universe. Buy this! (M)