Calamalka: Shredder’s Dub

Shredder's Dub
Plug Research

The most significant aspect of Shredder’s Dub is that its seduction is not relegated only to the dub enthusiast. As a whole, Calamalka’s efforts pry into more than one genre. These ethereal jaunts into the gaping unknown shan’t be shuffled alongside just the dub platters, not because there isn’t plenty of dub mayhem here, because there is, but Calamalka uses leering hip-hop beats as a vehicle to spread such mayhem evenly over every selection.

Michael Campitelli is called Calamalka for producer and musician purposes. He found his way over to Plug Research in 2003 after pressing his own 12″ EP a few years earlier and filling some time by touring and in hip-hop production. His collaboration with Vancouver neighbors Usual Suspecs landed on Canada-based Urbnet’s Underground Hip Hop Volume One and he filed some beats with an interested director for a feature film called On the Corner. He’s regularly behind the decks in Vancouver as DJ Boneless, spinning skate rock and is pumping kraut rock through a laptop with a band called Acid Castle. This laundry list of current and past side projects kept Campitelli busy while his first full length for Plug Research was being prepped for release.

The remarkable by-product of Campitelli’s interest in skateboarding, Bad Brains, Pete Rock, Lee Perry and DJ Premier rears its head on every recording on Shredder’s Dub, but a noteworthy selection tumbles through “Chassis” on track three. “Chassis’s” drum sound comes from the corner of the garage while abrasive bursts of organ play in and around its defiant, wah-wah bass. Campitelli adds fierce scraping atmospherics after the two-minute mark, backing up the drums occasionally and eventually stepping up the organ’s role a bit, tying together everything with a countering ghostly guitar melody in the far background. Fattening things up like track three, or say, record reviews, works on Shredder’s Dub, but Campitelli overturns the workflow for “Bumpea” midway through the album.

“Bumpea” is upbeat and rampant with stuttering fits of snare and keys. He begins with just the wiry tempo, and adds the other elements immediately, so that they help carry the party until its brief vanishing. The producer rests for only seconds before re-introducing a line of the crisp snare breaks that are clearly worthy of sampling. They’re cut off, and a dreary, slumped-over dub arrangement takes the floor for the subsequent track. “Reliable I” falls closest to the category of the dub plate, as guest Lo-Prophet assumes the “toast” MC role, adding bits and pieces of vocal to the sleepy mix. Echo is everywhere here; pushing drum cracks front and center. When scratching sneaks into the game, this Calamalka entry sounds as if it belongs to DJ Spooky.

The album’s flaws are in the area of innovation. Campitelli needs to do more in the way of developing ideas with these beats. An instrumental foray should showcase the producer’s/DJ’s ability to keep the party in listening party. Brevity would do well to be considered on Calamalka’s next release, if only in the interest of preserving his already unique ideas and highlighting the ones that definitely exist here.

While dub is primarily a genre of remixes, i.e. bending an original formula into grotesque contortions by way of adding echo and other effects, Shredder’s Dub culls its groundwork from no specific King Tubby recreation. Campitelli’s 12 tracks comprise a prominent exploration of the dub and hip-hop crossbreed, even if the cup should runneth over with more ideas. Shredder’s Dub is a strong and interesting example of the producer’s daring intentions.