Tony Campbell aka Dobie returns with his second EP for Big Dada, leading up to the release early next year of his new album, We Will Not Harm You. As with his debut EP for the label, Dobie uses a background in hip hop and soul as a leaping off point for a full-on journey into sound that shows his ear for a catchy melody as much as his taste in raw, aggressive beats and an epic sensibility that owes as much to Sun-Ra as DJ Premier, to Adrian Sherwood as Carl Craig.
"I-Anomaly" leads things out - fast, aggressive and catchy-as-fuck, Dobie threads bleep back through crate culture and reminds us once again that he likes a b-line - and why we do, too. "Prozac" is more of a straight hip hip hop shuffle, with enough bottom for any drunk brosteppa, but half way through the berimbau explodes out of the gates and the whole thing ends like Thelonious Monk going latin at an end of the world party. "Sectioned", which follows, is hard as nails, all punishing bass and crazy polyrythms, drums to be abducted by aliens to - or sectioned by. "The Mouse" is perhaps the most remarkable piece of music here - running at 165bpm with a wobbling, manic bassline, the whole thing skitters along until a topline comes in which makes it feel as if the top of your head's been removed (trepanning can be very liberating…). "Day Release" takes us back to hip hop, the kind of off-centre groove that almost demands a Roots Manuva revox and which develops a strange logic all its own, the warmth of its bass sound atttesting to Dobie's knowledge of dub. Again and again Campbell makes instrumental music with a depth and originality, a belief in groove and grit, unmatched right now. The package is rounded out by a remix of "The Mouse" from French labelmates VISION, who give the original a very nice technoid groove and show why Dobie recognised fellow spirits when he heard their recent EP.
Dobie is a legendary figure in British bass music and beyond. From working on the first two Soul II Soul albums, he went on to produce London Posse's all-time classic "How's Life In London?" before recording a solo LP for Pussyfoot, The Sound Of One Hand Clapping, which went some way to defining the "trip hop" sound now enjoying something of a rebirth. In between he has remixed everyone from Bjork, Massive Attack, Les Negress Vertes and Tricky to Gangstarr, Wooky and Wiley and recorded for a host of labels including Gilles Peterson's Brownswood and BBE, as well as producing and mixing for the aforementioned Roots Manuva. And that's before you even get into his time as a legendary skateboarder and a photographer of that crowd as well as the nascent UK hip hop scene. A truly amazing figure, his role in Black British culture from the '90s onward is a story waiting to be told.