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Net Feature/ Gabriel le Mar: "Dubwize"

img  Tobias

You wouldn't expect it from an artist with a decade of experience and a 25-entry discography to his credit, but humility and modesty are Gabriel le Mar's preferred character traits. After all these years spent in the studio and on the road, his unfettered enthusiasm still effectively eradicates even the most tender appendage of airs and graces – this man is a living and breathing musician, not a sterile star. The story of „Dubwize“, too, is rather one of mutual respect than a hostile takeover: Despite his obvious and undisputed credentials, he was excited to be pointed in the direction of online label Thinner by his friend Max Cavalerra, as eager as a schoolboy on his first slowdance upon downloading all but their entire back catalogue and as happy as a debutant when the respected  company accepted his demo for publication.

It's unlikely, however, that he will have had to do all that much convincing. Not only does the album fit the label profile of deep, dreamy Dubhouse like a glove, its clever sequencing and epically arced architecture mark it as more than just another collection of excuisitely produced but essentially unrelated single cuts. In the 90s, Le Mar was cast as artistic director of „Space Night“, a TV feature based on astronomical images and floating soundscapes which would keep students like myself awake for much too long upon returning home from already far too long nights at the pubs and clubs of Frankfurt, so he obviously knows how to build long, sustained musical dramaturgies – the series, just as an aside, has probably done more for widespread interest in and, more importantly, respect for electronic music than any other format in Germany.

This tension arch and sense of weightless wideness has now trickled into the polished arrangements of „Dubwize“ while being combined with the physical pulse of four to the floor kicks and seductive synth pads. Single chords will be repeated for a full eight minutes, samples Saxophones will blow short, almost ephemeral melodies, grooves will pound and prod the ear with gentle force and deep, sonorous bass lines will move as if in a trance and almost independent of the general flow of the music. Collaborations with MCs like Markie J, Jah Sesco  or Yah Meek are seamlessly integrated into the mix, as their vocals are snippeted into short, slogan-esque samples, which no longer aim to build any kind of narrative or coherent rap flow.

The main tranformational action of couse takes place in the recognisable Dub stabs, but their continuous metrum never forces itself upon the listener nor does it represent the only element worth paying attention to. Even though some of his pieces develop the thematic pull of songs, le Mar places great importance on weaving a web of fully integrated textures composed of a myriad of micromotives all working towards creating an irresistible subcutaneous flow. On „Love Dub“, possibly the album's quintessential track, this web pulsates and pushes, stomps, romps and marches forward with a relentless energy, while still providing for enough head space to allow the listener's fantasy input of its own.

„Dubwize“ is definitely a genre-typical and smooth work (unless one would want to count the rhythmic use of car engines on „Motorace“ as a tentative stab at experimentation), but it never comes across as too tasteful to leave a lasting impression. Every single piece here comes equipped with that one special hook that will keep you glued to your seat or on the dancefloor just when you thought you'd heard it all. And the closing beat-less remix of „Dubster“ points towards a fascinating proposition for the future: The approximation of clicks and cuts from the perspective of House. As modest and humble as le Mar may be, it is a finale which should make him proud just a little at least.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Gabriel le Mar
Homepage: Thinner Netlabel

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