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Horseman - Dawn of the Dread

Horseman - Dawn of the Dread

Horseman - Dawn of the Dread

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Prince Fatty goes digital on Horseman’s first ever album


UK deejay and drummer WinstonHorsemanWilliams - not to be confused with Jamaican equivalent LeroyHorsemouthWallace - has made a three decade journey to his first ever album.

He got his break as a session drummer for NeilAriwaFraser playing on the Mad Professor’s seminal cut of Kunte Kinte. Since then he’s balanced chanting on Brixton sounds, joining a post-schism line-up of Reggae Regular, cutting 45s for UK producers and dubplates for King Jammys in Jamaica, while touring with Ruff Cutt band backing Gregory Isaacs and John Holt.

Yet in all that time the man with a laid-back, nasal smoky tone who cites U Roy, I Roy and Admiral Bailey as audible influences has never recorded a long-playing vocal release. Not until this one - produced by Brighton’s Prince Fatty for whom Horseman drummed and toasted on several projects including the lauded debut by Hollie Cook.

horsemanLikewise Mike Pelanconi, AKA Prince Fatty, has also had an interesting journey since taking on the name in 2006. His early albums were crafted in a 70s retro style. That began to change with Little Roy’s Battle for Seattle - which still sounded as if it came from the King Tubbys epoch but used 90s Nirvana songs as material. A further step was Hollie Cook’s second effort Twice - blending reggae into orchestral Bollywood soul and disco. Then his recent remix soundclash vs Mungo’s HiFi saw the forward minded Scots computerise his music.

Dawn of the Dread feels like the culmination of the journey - because bar the usual vintage spoken word samples - there are no pre-80s elements whatsoever. It was originally started two years ago using a live band, then paused, returned to and rejigged in Thailand with synth-drums and keyboards. It's a mixture of heavy dub and digital dancehall - paying homage to the UK era Horseman emerged from. The shift was signposted by a 2012 remake of Williams’ 1985 single Giddy Up retitled Horsemove (one of two bonus tracks on the Dawn of the Dread cd but not the vinyl).

There are two types of pace for Horseman’s work here. He canters over hefty robotic dubbiness: the Halloween themed title track or Tippa Irie combination the Yout. He gallops across hard, fast computer beats during opener Brixton or Earl Sixteen collaboration Sweet Reggae Music (which could have been released by Unity in 1988). Where for Hollie Cook he channelled U Roy or I Roy this time his rapid ragga delivery salutes key dancehall influence Admiral Bailey.

Having been the motor behind the Fatty machine in the studio and on tour – often toasting and drumming simultaneously – it’s great to see the talented Horseman take centre stage.

It's also intriguing that Fatty, like Spain’s Roberto Sanchez, is moving away from his comfort zone. This is the last Fatty set with label Mr Bongo. It will be fascinating to hear what he does next because he and Horseman have blown the doors wide open into the computer age. 

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