By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
When you're part of a dub band from Colorado, live high in the mountains and spend your days in a basement playing with analog recording devices and enough instruments for an orchestra, you find time to get in touch with the spirit world. You might cement your ideas about the cosmos, good and evil, and society in general. Eventually, you might find yourself saying something like:
"With careful and penetrating understanding of ourselves, we will learn to unite and destroy a world built on the backs of a programmed slave class ruled by fascist political systems. The Global Ruling Elite has a new enemy who will not go into darkness."
This statement may sound like an angry missive from the King of Pop to Sony Records executive Tommy Mottola. But it is actually part of a coda that governs the musical and spiritual exploits of Heavyweight Dub Champion, a dub-electronica collective from the rural outskirts of Boulder. Those words -- and lots of others like them -- appear in the crew's "Last Champion Manifesto," a scripturally spirited rant that accompanies the group's ambitious debut record, Survival Guide for the End of Time. The disc -- an ill-bent mix of industrial apocalyptic hip-hop dubtronica -- features contributions from core Heavyweight members Resurrector and Patch, whose monikers mirror their survivalist ethos. Rapper Apostle, Wailer B., Elon, Stero Lion, Vill, Totter Todd and DJ Hot Daddi 36-0 are among the performers who fill out the pages of the Heavyweight guidebook.
Each member of the Champion crew has caused some major static in the local spoken-word, roots-reggae and hip-hop scenes during the past decade. Most are accustomed to presenting their work, almost sermon-like, in front of audiences of both converts and unbelievers. They are, maybe, accustomed to the manifesto mind. So it's no surprise that when they got together, they created a work that can safely be called a concept album -- and a heavy one, at that. According to Resurrector, Survival Guide "relates to the coming of the Last Champion, an interdimensional spiritual warrior, who is bringing people together throughout the world to try to elevate consciousness in a way that will focus people on the healing of themselves and the healing of the world, and help put people in a more offensive position."
The dub warriors say the seeds of Survival Guide lie in their childhoods: Both Resurrector and Patch claim to have encountered a supernatural entity called the Last Champion at an early age. Resurrector, who grew up in Baltimore, experienced visions during a childhood filled with severe migraine headaches and lengthy vomiting sessions. While living in the shadowy haze of the Big Apple as a child, Patch made contact with the spirit after experiencing seizures and blackouts. The two met up in Colorado years later and became creative partners. They hunkered down in a sonic laboratory -- a log cabin equipped with an outhouse and no running water -- and began to shape their music. Eventually, they conceived a kind of soundtrack for their shared end-time scenario: a heavyweight knockdown between the Last Champion and the forces that threaten to imprison the planet.
The result is a twenty-track sonic fusillade of massive electronic dub that serves up post-apocalyptic prescriptions for survival in a tension-filled new millennium. Each track corresponds to a chapter in the 64-page booklet that comes in the disc's inner sleeve. Also included is a fold-out poster, designed by local artist Jher 451, which illustrates such modern-day malfeasance as martial law and a poisoned environment. It also includes diagrams of citizens developing underground networks to combat such pestilence.
Structurally, the record moves from the announcement of the battle to the rallying calls of the Last Champion's chosen army -- followers who unite to liberate individuals and the Earth -- to the eventual announcement of the Last Champion as a victor in the championship against predators who have put a stranglehold on humanity's innate desire to creatively seek truth, beauty, pleasure and power.
"We use the symbolism of an army and a gathering of soldiers," says Resurrector. "There are ways that you can generate, and create in your mind, to prepare for a life that is focused on trying to elevate consciousness and liberate people -- and to combat the progression of a society that, we believe, generates closed-minded sort of educational frameworks that don't allow for people to explore their own power and creative tendencies."
Moreover, Heavyweight Dub Champion believes the hypnotic properties encoded in the DNA of its sound help individuals to better achieve liberated states.
"I think there is a key trance aspect to it," explains Patch. "We can bring people into an element where they are moving and pulsing as one and really feeling the rhythm. When people are moving in a trance within music, that opens up their minds for someone like Apostle or Stero Lion to really speak some good words and wisdom that they've learned over the years."
Apostle, whose nom de plume is an acronym for Ascending Power Over Secular Territories Liberating Earthlings, acts as a hip-hop revivalist barker/preacher for the group. He says Heavyweight Dub's music "is trying to present a new paradigm of how people view spirituality. We're trying to evoke a spiritual experience."