Ticklah vs. Axelrod (Easy Star Records ES-1015, 2007)
News flash: Ticklah and Axelrod are one and the same. Yup, that’s right. Don’t be too quick to diagnose Victor "Ticklah" Axelrod as some kind of schizophrenic, however. See him instead for the multi-instrumentalist and multi-talent that he is. In addition to being the keyboardist for Afrobeat masters Antibalas, he’s done his fair share of sessions with mainstream artists and never strays far from the reggae/dub realm either.
Ticklah’s home base of Brooklyn, NY is one of the hottest spots for dub production outside Jamaica, and as co-producer/co-arranger/keyboard player on the Easy Star All-Stars Dub Side of the Moon, he had a hand in the creation of a true modern reggae milestone.
Grounded in the sounds of classic Jamaican dub, Ticklah vs. Axelrod could easily pass for something recorded in a ganja-fogged Kingston studio 30 years ago. At first listen, anyway.
On the initial go-around you might be to distracted by the mind-shattering dub excellence of this disc to fully grasp the inclusion of "Mi Sonsito" and "Si Hecho Palante," two Eddie Palmieri compositions that splash a little salsa in the reggae pulse.
Or your mesmerized state may cause you to put off reading the liner notes and seeing that not only did Alexrod produce and mix the whole thing, he also plays keys, guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
So it would seem the title refers to the inner conflicts that no doubt come with taking on multiple tasks. To alleviate such problems to some degree, there are other skilled players on board, mainly folks from past and present Ticklah collaborations. And since singing is about the only thing Axelrod doesn’t do, he’s brought in vocalists such as the suitably ethereal Tamar-Kali, the liltingly Latin Mayra Vega and Rasta rootsman Rob Symeonn to fill that void.
Okay, since I started out with a news flash, here’s another: This is one of the best non-reissue dub releases I’ve heard in a long time. Definitely a masterpiece of the genre, something that reggae and dub lovers should rush to obtain.
Buy Ticklah vs. Axelrod.
Author: Tom Orr
Tom Orr is a California-based writer whose talent and mental stability are of an equally questionable nature. His hobbies include ignoring trends, striking dramatic poses in front of his ever-tolerant wife and watching helplessly as his kids surpass him in all desirable traits.