Monday, September 21, 2015

Duff Review: Flying Vipers "The Green Tape"

Music A.D.D.
day-glo green cassette tape/digital EP

(Review by Steve Shafer)

Brothers John and Marc Beaudette (the former on bass, guitar, and melodica; the later on drums and percussion) from Boston's mighty roots reggae outfit Destroy Babylon have teamed up with keyboardist Zack Brines from Pressure Cooker for a new dub project titled Flying Vipers--which is inspired by the incredible analog dub reggae of the 1970s and early 1980s produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry, Keith Hudson, King Tubby, Dennis Bovell, Scientist, and many others.

In seeking to capture that spirit, sound, and vision for their own original tracks, the Flying Vipers recorded their instrumentals on an old-school, Tascam 8-track cassette console (and performed using vintage drums, bass, and keyboards). The final dub mix (by Jay Champany of Truth and Rights) was recorded live on the same Tascam deck, utilizing classic dub techniques and effects--and the results are really pretty phenomenal (and having Kevin Metcalfe, who has worked with David Bowie, The Clash, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Dr. Alimantando, UB40, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, Prince Far I, and others, master the final mixes certainly must have helped!).

The Flying Vipers' The Green Cassette (available, natch, via a day-glo green cassette or digital EP, if you must) contains six fantastic tracks of tangibly warm, vibrant, and crisp dub instrumentals with great melodies--earworms, really--that will move your body and elevate your mood. My favorite cut here, "Beacon Street Version," features a lilting, very Rico-like trombone melody on a song that sounds like it could have been off Warieka Dub. Other great touches abound throughout the tape--from the jazzy, bell-like sound of the Fender Rhodes on the lovely "Bell Crickets," to the haunting melodica lines on the slow spooling of "Tape Hiss," as well as the urgent and slightly dangerous "Dragon Snout," to the trippy, wah-wah pedal effects on the guitar line of "Cannabaceae" (which is a family of small flowering plants including Cannabis and Humulus, or hops), and the tension on display between the relaxed sax and the hyper, almost martial percussion in "Coffee Kush" (yes, apparently a strain of coffee-flavored marijuana now exists--does one have the Pavlovian jolt from the taste of coffee, but then mellow out when the THC kicks in?).

My only complaint about this release is that I want more of it--and I also wish it had been issued on vinyl (music this good deserves it). For now, hook up your dad's old tape deck to the stereo or bid on a used Sony Walkman on eBay--and then have someone over forty show you how to insert the cassette (and enjoy)!

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