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Meteorites - Dub the Mighty Dragon

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Artist: Meteorites

Album: Dub the Mighty Dragon

Label: Rise Robots Rise

Review date: Jul. 8, 2003

No Accounting for Cool

Dub the Mighty Dragon is nothing less than the new standard in digital funk. I wouldn’t shit you. This Deutsche pair has pulled off what that teetering stack of turn-of-the-century techno discs never even promised.

It’s all here, strained through a commitment to simplicity that would make it palpable to a two-year old. There’s the rubbery bass and Lynchian glamour (on loan from early Prince). There’s that stuttering Timbaland beat, punched up with cheeseball keyboards so trebley it sounds as though it’s seeping through the outsized headphones of someone else on the bus. There’s “Don’t Wait,” which sounds like Peter Schilling. There's scads more. But what’s amazing is how Meteorites have finally found something to do with dub, in a pop context, that doesn’t sound forced or condescending. They’re the first non-Jamaican act I’ve heard play reggae seemingly by accident more than by design.

Mark my words: Everything these cats do is thrice as funky as anything their stateside heroes The Neptunes ever did.

And then there are the vocals, which should keep them off American radio completely. The raps sound awfully close to American mock-wiggers Beck and Har Mar Superstar. Of course, a lot of it (“Dracula”) is self-conscious novelty. But most of the balance harkens back to the pre-Chronic early ’90s, when crypto-PC goofballs such as Digable Planets and Arrested Development filled the Top 40 airwaves with pseudo-profundities. (“Butterfly kisses and mosquito bites… I’m a grasshopper in a restless world.”) And, again, the blasé delivery tips the scale from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Which doesn’t make Dub the Mighty Dragon any less good, just less cool. And there’s no accounting for cool, particularly when you cross the Atlantic. The Meteorites are a lot like the exchange student who strains to appropriate U.S. cool and – in his complete failure to ever quite nail it – creates something else completely. Something that is all too easily lost on the literalist consumers of this sort of music.

Sometimes, something can be so good and simultaneously so uncool that it underscores the futility of cool. Whether or not Dub the Mighty Dragon is that something, it’s required listening for anyone who bought the N*E*R*D record, even if it’s more awkward-silly than cagey-silly.

What, you're not psyched to meet the Arling & Cameron of hip hop? Your loss, baby.

By Emerson Dameron

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