Jazz and dub, sax and steel drums -- do they mix? They sure do, if you are the Embassadors, and if you are working with dubmaster Burnt Friedman. Coptic Dub is the group's second release for Friedman's imprint Nonplace, following up on Healing the Music (a collaboration with African singer Michel Ongaru). Here, the Embassadors are paired down to their core trio: leader/composer Hayden Chisholm, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Jochen Rueckert, plus Friedman at the mixing desk. The music is smooth and lightly groovy, the mood extremely intimate (Chisholm's sax is recorded up close and personal, enough to hear him breathe through the instrument), with a soulful chill-out feel. The key to the Embassadors' music resides in Chisholm's multiple talents; if the man's main instrument is the tenor sax, his playing the Hammond organ and the steel drums are just as instrumental to the album's sound palette. On "Dagaz Eterna" and "Polar Sexus," for instance, all these instruments come together in light, delicate touches that imbue the music with a strange yet earthy, irresistible groove (guitarist Bruno Müller also guests on these tracks). Coptic Dub is a master class in control: no flare-ups, no standout or unrelated track. Just a collection of tunes following a similar listening curve, finely tailored to the same pattern; each one is unique, but produced to fit in and carry on the laid-back, relaxed groove of the album. Everything here, even Friedman's effects, is understated. Don't expect to be wowed, expect to be gently lulled into bliss.
AllMusic Review by François Couture