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Album Review: Gentleman's Dub Club - Lost In Space

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A good rule of thumb for reggae music is whatever Steve Lamacq plays on 6 Music is probably pretty decent.

Gentleman's Dub Club - Lost In Space

If, like me, you’re a follower of such a rule you’ll most likely have heard of Gentleman’s Dub Club – a staple in Lamacq’s weekly playlists and Friday Free For All – and relished in their silky big-band sound. 

Following Pound for Pound, a collaborative album with The Nextmen released in 2018, GDC are back to their usual tricks. Pound for Pound was anthemic in its cooperative make-up; littered with some of the best and brightest talents in the reggae and dub community, but what it gave in features it lacked in authenticity. Their new release, Lost In Space, despite being set in the farthest outreaches of deep space, feels rooted at home on the streets of London.

If you’re a long-time listener of GDC, you’ll immediately draw the similarities between their 2019 release and, arguably still their finest record to date, The Big Smoke, released back in 2015. Heavily driven by the bolshy, big-band sounds of rich brass and ticking, Jamaican drums but still maintaining that British dub edge, Lost In Space puts its full 8-man arsenal to good use. 

At the mid-section, we’re treated with the sax-heavy instrumental ‘God of War’, much like The Big Smoke’s ‘Enter The Chamber’ which acted as a welcomed breathing point. ‘Eye of the Storm’ is almost a perfectly recycled version of ‘Music Is The Girl I Love’ with its famed brass arpeggio, but this time wrapped up in a festival-ready breakdown.

Thematically, Lost In Space is unfaltering. The aptly named pre-released singles ‘Stardust’ and ‘Light The Fuse’ shred the intergalactic trails with juxtaposing clipped percussion and lengthy, booming brass sections. Unlike the 4/20 haze that hung over The Big Smoke, both singles glisten with clarity like a twinkling star in a pitch-black sky, lent by Johnny Scratchley’s sharp vocals.

Frankly, Pound for Pound was overbearing with collaborations (duh, it's a collaborative album) whereas the chosen artists in Lost In Space are few and far between but make a huge impact; Million Stylez lends his infectious dancehall drive to ‘Turning Back’, while Winston Francis pulls the curtains to with a vintage take on ‘Walking Away’. Both, rather than fleshing out an already jam-packed record, attribute a bit of reggae’s new and old, respectively, to GDC’s cross-generation sonic blueprint. 

There aren’t really any low points in Lost In Space; even Scratchley’s slightly jarring, robotic vocals in ‘Intergalactic’ match a rolling, synthetic bassline and provide even the most incompetent dancers with a steady bounce. Penned as an intergalactic journey through time and bass, Lost In Space feels completely rooted at home. Gentleman’s Dub Club have taken a much-needed leap backwards to produce a record very recognisably, well, themselves.

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