Al Cisneros // Sinai Dub Box 2012-2022
A plush box set of leftfield dub excursions pressed to 7″ from a stoner rock legend.
Al Cisneros has a legacy in music which reaches back to the start of the 90s, when his band Asbestosdeath splintered and reformed as stoner rock titans Sleep. The Californian bassist then went on to form OM with Chris Hakius – a project which evolved through the 00s and took in artists such as modular synth whizz Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe but always retained its roots in psychedelic, anvil-weighted rock. As such, you might not have immediately expected him to have a dub side to his musicality, but for any bassist worth their salt, Jamaica’s skeletal, subsonic terrain is a natural home.
Cisneros has been releasing dub 7”s via his Sinai label since 2012, also shoring up on labels like Drag City and ZamZam Sounds. Now he’s 10 years deep in the project, he’s gathered together these nuggets for a retrospective box set which neatly sums up his sound. The ZamZam link should be a useful indication for those who appreciate leftfield but traditionally-rooted variations on dub – Cisneros doesn’t attempt to make dub in the Jamaican sense, but his craft is reverentially grounded in the mixing desk alchemy which caused seismic shifts in music production when the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and King Tubby went wild with delay and reverb.
The bong rip which punctuates ‘Carport Dispensary’ feels like a playful callback to Cisneros’ stoner rock roots (Sleep’s iconic ‘Dopesmoker’ springs to mind) but by and large this is serious, immersive stuff. There’s elements of rockist approaches woven into the fabric of his sound – moody riffs and bashy drum patterns – but they’re more like inflections than overbearing signifiers. At times the effect is more ambient and dreamy, like on ‘Indica Field’, and elsewhere you hear the mystical steppas tones you might expect from a Disciples record. Nothing sounds quite like anything else, though, and pressed up on 7”s and presented as one hit, it’s a remarkable statement of Cisneros’ commitment to dub exploration.
You can pick up Sinai Dub Box 2012-2022 at Bandcamp.