Album CD + 2x Vinyl - oct 03
Whoever considers dub an invitation to either armchair or dancefloor will enter shaky ground with "Middle of the Road", the new album by Berlin duo Bus. Here, in the middle lane, giving way on the left, overtaking on the right, rules are disregarded and accidents only a microsleep away. In the realm of ~scape's characteristic tilde the coordinates of relational localisation fail in the same way as Daniel Meteo and Tom Thiel disobey any directional marching orders.
Instead they have chosen to cruise the bermuda triangle of dub, minimal electronica and hiphop in a veritable craft, bursting the questionable airbag of attitude, ego and representation with their first stumbling beat. Bus do not stop at unmasking genre-typical poses, but move one step further. They collect all the tiny inconsistencies that unveil the desolate yet strong core of their own fragility, sometimes through a slightly wobbly beat, sometimes via brutally honest lyrics - and always head for the limits. But don't worry - the view remains enchanting, perhaps because it is so familiar. And the Bus dub, a warm engine, leads a likeable life of its own - with small hiccups and endearing quirks. Spurred by this drive, armchair and dancefloor are soon forgotten - and we step into the middle of the road, come what may.
While their initial releases resembled an abstract string theory of dub, Bus have now arrived in the thicket of subjective perception and deliver personal observations rather than explanations. In their efforts to combine dub, minimal electronica and hiphop in one riff they have managed to win over strong vocal support from Glaswegian underground shooting star MC Soom-T - the only woman to reach the finals of the recent 8 Mile MC Championships 2003. Soom-T employs a wrongly forgotten recitative style, voice full of sharp, credible femininity and demanding involvement far from the prevalent lady, bitch or girl patterns.
When, in songs like "Don't be afraid to cry", she describes surrendering to the omnipresent perception of what a "normal" life should be, she simultaneously reflects her own powerlessness - without resorting to complaints. When, in "Keep Life Right", she raps about disappointed love, loss of trust and realising that the only person she can truly rely on is herself, she conveys the perspective of a woman whose serenity and wisdom is far more real than stereotypical role models in- and outside of the genre would like to make us believe. Soom-T's presence is strong throughout. Her presence remains noticeable even during the strictly instrumental tracks, as if listening in to ready herself for the next song. Perhaps Bus play a version of dub that illuminates the other side of the coin - definitely her agenda, too.
Bus are sticklers for detail - moving the hi-hat a tad to the rear, the bass an inkling to the front, partially doubling the snare, everything drags, pulls or pushes. No matter how different the patterns of the individual tracks might be, certain phrases and sounds reappear like old friends, for example a fragile guitar loop on "Don't be Afraid to Cry" which, at the end of the album, reasserts itself quietly on "Offroad". Instead of blowing smoke over the master tapes or burying them in the garden, Bus put in yet another nightshift to finetune the phrasing or to add another shade to the tone of their virtual synthesiser. Maybe the absence of mystic ingredients allows them to tickle just the right places, to load the dub with their own visions. And this is by no means to dis the cultural background of dub, but the more honest approach of two Germans who share a passion for Jamaican music.
Daniel Meteo has studied music, runs his own experimental dub label (Meteosound), travels around the world as a sought-after DJ and, via his booking agency flow-er, looks after world-wide live appearances of ~scape, Meteosound, Ocean Club and Shitkatapult artists.
Tom Thiel founded the downtempo electronica project Sun Electric together with Max Loderbauer, later transformed into S.E. Berlin. In Berlin, he is member of the Ocean Club, a loose association of artists and musicians around Gudrun Gut and Thomas Fehlmann.
MC Soom-T is a member of the Glasgow formation Monkeytribe, dedicated to the underground aspects of hiphop. With the 12inch "Delaware" Monkeytribe released their first ever official record on Daniel's Meteosound label - soon it became clear that they were of one mind. With Soom-T Bus have now found the perfect complement for their new album; their joint efforts went far beyond what could be expected of a conventional studio session with a guest MC
about mc soom-t and the monkeytribe crew, glasgow