Manchester has consistently churned out an incredible array of punk and ska over the last few years, but it is safe to say that the Autonomads and Black Star Dub Collective have significantly raised the bar. At the beginning of April 2012 the two bands released From Rusholme With Dub on Pumpkin Records, an incredible ten track split CD that has completely blown me away.
It has been around 4 years since the Autonomads released their debut LP, No Man’s Land, back in 2008 and although the wait has been long, it has definitely been worth it. From Rusholme With Dub sees the band build a great deal on their original sound, mixing the hectic thrashing bouts of angry punk with gentler more melodic ska. A second guitar allows for some satisfying riffs and the chance to experiment with some interesting atmospheric dubby effects which add character to the tracks. I am glad to say the sax is particularly prevalent in this release and that it can be heard fluttering playfully amongst the upstrokes and amid the distortion. Robbie’s harsh gruff vocals are well complemented throughout the five tracks by Beanie’s softer female tones, adding a unique yet uncontrived element to the Autonomads’ overall sound. Politically conscious lyrics discuss the grim and hollow reality of ethical consumerism in “2000BP” while “Fight Dem Back” calls for intolerance of the intolerant and to confront the racism and fascism rife in the UK.
To really do justice to the Black Star Dub Collective’s share of the release, you need to get your hands on a subwoofer or, at the very least, some decent headphones capable of delivering a hefty amount of bass. BSDC’s impressive basslines are relentless and throb menacingly underneath each track while drums tickle the space above, steadying the beat. Lashings of reverb on the guitars add to the drifting dubby sound which is contrasted by periods of clean, punchy upstrokes. Each song features a host of different samples and effects which add great depth and individual character to the tracks. Mike’s distinctive vocals (instantly recognisable to anyone who’s heard the fantastic Harijan), lend themselves to the steady ambient dub. There is palpable anguish and outrage in his voice when addressing the state of the nation in “Dub Ina Ancoats Style” and when debating the riots in “Instant Injustice”. Sprinkles of intricate keys flicker here and there whilst sirens worm their way around the offbeat and the eerie ethereal trombone filtering through “Leviathan” is simply fantastic. BSDC’s sound is incredibly complex and thoroughly multilayered but at no point does it become disorientating or confusing. I’m generally a little uneasy if a band starts saturating a release with noises that wouldn’t make it out of the studio and onto the stage, but, having been lucky enough to see BSDC play, I’m very glad to say they can recreate pretty much everything in this record live.
The entire album is exceptionally well produced and while the two bands are, in some ways, quite different musically, the continuity in ethics and general dissident attitude means the release hangs together seamlessly. The CD is available to buy from Pumpkin Records for £5 as well as Active Distribution, Mass Prod, TNS Records, Rodent Popsicle and Antikoerper Export. From Rusholme With Dub is also available to buy on vinyl for £7. Both bands are fantastic live and well worth catching if you get the chance, so keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming dates.