Dub Spencer & Trance Hill have been in the music business for 20 years and are still very much as hungry as a caterpillar in a leafy forest.
In everything the band has done the dub component has loomed large, regardless of whether it was mixed up humorously and intelligently with Christmas songs, spoken words or spaghetti westerns. But despite the varied influences, electronic, psychedelic, “trance” elements always played an important role in the work of the renowned Swiss band, finding their ideal expression in sweat-drenched live shows that are truly a step beyond the ordinary. Now, finally, this side of the band is being given pride of place on the quartet’s new, twelfth album, “Imago Cells”, which heralds a metamorphosis.
“Imago cells are responsible for the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. At first they have no function, are even blocked. But they manage to win over the old cells and create new life: This served us as a starting point for the new record.”
The analogy of imago cells is also used for revolutionary events, to convey the idea of overcoming an old system to permit something more beautiful to emerge. Not that Dub Spencer & Trance Hill want to overcome their dubby roots, but the four natives of Lucerne simply cannot resist climbing up along unknown branches – and this path has lead them to explore the “trance” in their own band name for the first time. Masi Stalder (b), Markus Meier (g) and Julian Dillier (dr) remain true to their instruments, leaving drum machines and computers aside for the time being; only Philipp Greter (keys) has acquired a new, majestic conglomeration of synthesisers. The music featured on the new album was previously reserved for their live gigs.
“The ‘trance’ in the band name stands for the electronic part of our sound. Although it has hardly ever appeared on a record, it has always been there – much like the imago cells. Now we want to explore this aspect.”
From the old comes forth the new, and dub merges with electronic dance music, or rather “trance music”. Tracks like “Trance Plane”, “Fugu” or the curiously grandiose Oriental 5/4 piece “Dubai Market” clearly have an up-tempo spirit and extend an invitation to rave. The sound has become even more bassy and psychedelic without losing any of its earthy, organic touch. The four musicians booked the legendary Winterthur Hard Studios to fine-tune their sound, returning with eight tracks that bubble, echo and groove wonderfully and have the unmistakable Dub Spencer & Trance Hill sound. At the same time, everything on this album makes you understand that daring to do something new is the only conceivable way forward. It’s a truly magical moment, much like the birth of a butterfly.
1 Trance Plane
2 Chili Dub
3 Dubai Market
5 Cypress Swamp