- On the cover of Red X, the debut from Bristolian Young Echo associate Daniel Davies (AKA Ossia, DJ Oa$is), is a quote from Peter Tosh. Said to be lifted off "mysterious reel-to-reel recordings, in which the reggae star documented his dissatisfaction with city life under Babylonian rule and his mistrust of certain people around him," the artist's bleak musings are chopped and rearranged for Davies's barren, dubwise productions. But their meaning is never skewed, nor is Tosh's voice altered with pitch or effects on the title track. (Built from an acetate dubplate of "Ice & Blood" and the "crackly old 7-inch run-out groove of Tosh's 'Oh Boombaclat,'" the windswept "Blood & Ice (Version)" takes more liberties with audio trickery.) It speaks to Davies's respect and admiration that these found sounds remain largely intact, like he hoped to convey both the message and its history through his music. Red X achieves that much through smart sound design and a dedication to old-school simplicity, but perhaps more importantly, it recontextualizes those ideas for adventurous listeners.
Sleng Again, which launched FuckPunk, the DIY label co-owned by Davies and fellow Young Echo member Vessel, featured gnarled, debased versions of the classic riddim concocted by the label heads. Vessel returns to contribute "additional mixing" on Red X, but the sound the pair land on this time is closer to Killing Sound's spacious self-titled EP for Blackest Ever Black. It's worth noting the co-mixer's presence because his prints are all over this record. On "Ice & Blood," samples from the masterful Order Of Noise may have been reappropriated wholesale, and that album's swampy, caustic lurch seems like a blueprint for Davies. "Red X," however, strikes a more singular approach with a steady 4/4 underpinning the soundsystem gymnastics. His strengths lie in harnessing heavy sub-focused grooves around raw percussion and haunted soundscapes, which only the title track delivers in full. The B-side cuts reveal an artist equally invested in blunted experimentation, and while that's not his most interesting quality, Davies would do well to see where else that path can take him.
A1 Red X
B1 Ice & Blood
B2 Blood & Ice (Version)