Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae, continues to dominate the reggae scene; however, there are plenty of reggae artists living in other countries, which range from England (where reggae has been quite popular since the '60s) to South Africa. And France is the home of Improvisators Dub, a group that has specialized in dubwise in the '90s and 2000s. The Bordeaux-based group does not get into dancehall, the harder, cruder, more forceful and abrasive style of toasting that came after dubwise's heyday and is associated with in-your-face artists like Bounty Killer, Shabba Ranks, Lieutenant Stitchie, Ninjaman, Cutty Ranks, and Nardo Ranks (all of whom have been greatly influenced by American hip-hop). Instead, Improvisators Dub has favored an old-school approach to dubwise that faithfully recalls the classic '70s recordings of Jamaican toasters like I-Roy, U-Roy, Ijahman, Big Youth, and the late King Tubby (a huge influence on Improvisators Dub and many other dubwise artists).
Stylistically, Improvisators Dub is an unapologetic throwback to the Kingston and Montego Bay of the '70s -- they recall a time when dubwise artists traveled all over Jamaica and carried their impressive sound systems with them. And for that matter, the French group also recalls a time when dubwise became popular in the U.K. and artists like Aba Shanti I and the London-based Mad Professor (just to give a two examples) ruled the pre-dancehall era of British toasting.
Improvisators Dub was formed in Bordeaux in 1997; that year, they ventured to London and recorded their debut EP with Jamaican singer/producer Junior Delgado. The group's first full-length album, Hybrid, was followed by Dub & Mixture, which found them joining forces with the Disciples (a well-known dub group from England) and was released in France in 2000 on the Reverb label. Improvisators Dub's subsequent albums on Reverb have included Live Act Outernational (their first live album) in 2001 and Super Vocal & Dub Session in 2002. In 2004, Super Vocal & Dub Session was released in the United States on the Vicious Circle label.
Typically, Improvisators Dub's albums favor an earthy, rootsy production style along the lines of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Sly & Robbie (who were arguably the Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff of reggae) instead of going for the sort of high-tech, hip-hop-minded producing one has come to expect from dancehall. Members of Improvisators Dub have included Manu on electric guitar and keyboards, Nicodub on electric bass, Knarfenstein on drums, Fransax on saxophone, and Fouine on the sound system. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi