Dub lovers since they began operations in the early '80s, New York City's ROIR label focuses on the next wave and fringe of the genre for the most part, which means their Essential Dub collection spends a lot of time off the island of Jamaica and plenty of time with friends of mega producer Bill Laswell, spliff-smoking Brits, and part-time dubbers like the Bad Brains. Even with all the genre blending and globe trotting, this 2007 sampler hangs together thanks to ROIR's commitment to all things deep and smoky. There's nothing too slick or too stylish in a Buddha Bar style and even if the collection works great as background music it's just as strong when it comes to active listening. The Bush Chemists and Twilight Circus show how Europeans can get especially spacy with their dub, Laswell, Badawi, and Doctor Israel display how dense and dank modern NYC dub can be, while the Bad Brains and the Terrorists present the sound of punks chilling out on the JA sound. Ras Michael and Niney the Observer offer the true Jamaican sound while great tracks from both the Dub Trio and 10 Ft. Ganja Plant show how strong the U.S. dub scene is in 2007. While it would be easy for the veteran to complain about what's missing -- ROIR cuts from the Ruts D.C., Jah Works, Roots Tonic, and Lee "Scratch" Perry would have really earned that "Essential" on the cover -- this teaser is meant to be the newbie's gateway drug, and on that level, it succeeds.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries