CD Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, In These Times

Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad2012
www.giantpandadub.com

A promotional blurb refers to In These Times as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s “new psychedelic reggae album.” Sure enough, it’s reggae, and of a very attractive kind, but it seems I no longer have a clue what “psychedelic” means. Maybe it refers to the slightly esoteric instrumentation, which includes Hammond B3 organ, clavinet, synthesizer and mbira. Or maybe to the slightly esoteric structure of most songs, with a more-or-less extended break halfway along that goes beyond mere bridge and becomes (possibly) an emulation of Grateful Dead’s improvisational style, although really it’s just a sort of dub.

Or perhaps the psychedelia arises from the oh-so-tricky half-minute of silence after the last listed track before a final musical snippet. Or from the multi-tracking of the lead vocal, or the organized chaos in the middle of track 5. Or from the way the guitar goes wah-wah and does other fun stuff. Surely it’s not the counter-culture we-need-a-revolution lyrics, which have been standard fare for a while. So although I don’t know where that label comes from, I do really like the music. But then any long-time reggae lover is bound to appreciate a track listing that includes neither a “Babylon Burn” nor a “Collie Weed” but does include a “Next Best Explosion” and a “Moonshine” (not actually about likker).

Call this album psychedelic if you want, but as long as you think more Lee Scratch Perry than Jefferson Airplane and more Kingston than San Francisco, you’ll have no reason to trip out, or be tripped up, or whatever. The melodies are (mostly) fresh, the playing is spirited, and the rhythms are skanking good.



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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