Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad ‘Slow Down’ Review (Self-Released)

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad?! Yes, their name is a bit odd. For simplicity’s sake we’ll refer to them as GPGDS from this point forward. If ever the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” were true it’s with GPGDS. They describe themselves as a ‘relentless reggae sound’, ‘Roots reggae and experimental dub’, and ‘North American International Body Music.’ (Not sure about that last one but that’s neither here nor there.) Honestly, don’t let the name fool you. GPGDS is a group worthy of mentioning. ‘Slow Down’ is GPGDS’ debut release from 2006. Considering The Reggae was not around back then we take the opportunity to review the album now.

‘Slow Down’ is a solid debut album. The bass-heavy, dub-inspired, original music is pure quality. In part, due to the fact that they use all live instruments, including a 1947 Hammond B3 Organ and a Fender Rhodes. The variety of sounds and instruments shows GPGDS’ appreciation for classic roots reggae but it is most definitely not a dub album, so don’t be confused by the name. In fact, there’s only one actual ‘dub’ on the album, that being Sunshine Dub, complete with an Augustus- Pablo- would- be- proud clavinet, which closes the set.
What really grabs your attention on ‘Slow Down’ is the music. It is raw and rugged, yet precise and polished. GPGDS are excellent players of instruments and here they thoroughly prove they have a feel for roots reggae. Every track is slow, heavy roots. The lead-off tune Buffalo is very reminiscent of the classic ‘Real Rock’ riddim. This song, along with a great deal of the album has a very ‘live’ feel to it. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Some of the songs lack the continuity you would expect from a studio session.
There are some definite highlights on ‘Slow Down’. Burkina Faso has a smooth flow and feel and some excellent harmonies as well. Portions of the verses smack of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, and that’s okay. It’s catchy. Other tracks worthy of mention are Hiroshima and On The Moon.
Missing You More is a boom tune. The music sounds like it’s straight from The Wailers ‘Catch A Fire’ sessions of the early 70s. Even the harmonies and background vocals vibe of the early Wailers music. This is without a doubt the most complete song on the album. It is well-arranged and precisely-played. The lyrics are solid and the delivery is tight.
Overall ‘Slow Down’ is a worthy first-effort. GPGDS shows tremendous potential.
They have managed to capture the organic sound of 70s roots reggae, and that is no easy task.
If GPGDS is able to elevate their lyrics and vocal delivery to the level of their music than the reggae world better look out! There may soon be a new sheriff… sorry… Guerilla… in town.
Recommended for reggae-rock listeners and fans of Golden Era roots-reggae.


Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad - Slow Down

Track Listing:
1. Buffalo
2. Creation
3. Burkina Faso
4. Hiroshima
5. Conspire
6. Incognito
7. Forever Party
8. On The Moon
9. Seasons Change
10. Ginger Juice
11. Missing You More
12. Sunshine Dub