Preview – Dreadzone

There’s a new album just appeared from Dreadzone, after I don’t know how many years in the wilderness (I just checked – their last chart hit was exactly twenty years ago). It sounds pretty good though – it’s called Dread Times, and here’s a preview:

Dreadzone – 360°

Time to review a twenty year old piece of laid back electro-dub. Will it be in any way contemporary or enjoyable? No idea. But twenty years ago this week saw the release of 360° (that’s 360 Degrees if the symbol doesn’t translate properly) by Dreadzone.

Dreadzone would, of course, a couple of years later take the charts by storm with an excellent track from their second proper album entitled Little Britain, and then disappeared into the underworld, never to be heard of by the masses again. But even that’s not on this album.

From very gentle murmurings, the first track House of Dread builds and builds, until the vocalist starts scatting. Of course, it’s 1993, so GameBoy-style computer noises are very fashionable, and using the same sounds as Doop by Doop is entirely acceptable, as it wouldn’t hit the charts for another couple of years. Yes, it’s extremely dated, but it’s an acceptable opener nonetheless.

Which generally sets the mood of the album. L.O.V.E. is pleasant, chilled out, repetitive, and also a little dated sounding when the FM synthesised piano, pads and sound effects turn up. To describe it as cinematic would no doubt be music to the ears of the artists, as film references are dotted throughout this album.

Chinese Ghost Story turns up, less obviously dub-influenced and a bit less badly dated as well, and is followed by the wonderfully named The Good, The Bad and The Dread. With a curiously catchy drum and bass rhythm and some very odd sample choices, it mixes the music of Ennio Morricone with 90s electro and dub elements to make something quite brilliant. It’s got horses in it and everything.

After the dull The Warning things quickly return to form with Dream On, another great chilled out track about the drugs. By this point in the album, the cheese has subsided somewhat, and it’s entirely possible to enjoy the laid back dub without being glad it’s no longer 1993. If I can give you one useful tip though, it would be not to look too hard at the artwork – that’s probably the most dated thing about the whole package.

Later tracks Far EncounterSkeleton at the Feast and Rastafarout continue the general trend, with the odd dodgy sample here and there, just to remind you that this album is a slight anachronism in the 21st century. In general, 360° is a decent album, but you could do worse than confine your knowledge of Dreadzone to the brilliant Little Britain, as most people have.

You won’t find this album on iTunes, but their much better 1995 album Second Light is. If you still want to give this album a go, head over to Amazon and order an olde-fashioned “physical copy“, or maybe try their Best Of instead.