December 2007

Ticklah - Ticklah vs. Axelrod
Easy Star Records ES-1015
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Brooklyn, NY native Victor Axelrod has had his hand in a number of successful genre-spanning projects in recent years. From being a founding member and collaborator for the Easy Star all-star release Dub Side of the Moon, to his role as keyboardist and co-producer for the Afrobeat band Antibalas, to his recent production work with the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, Axelrod appears to have the Midas Touch.

Yet none of these has kept him from his pet project, Ticklah vs. Axelrod. Under the alter-ego guise of Ticklah, Axelrod battles himself to great effect, proving this multi-talented, multi-personality has mad skills in the creation of dub-drenching reggae grooves. The jaw drops further when you realize this guy single-handedly plays the majority of instruments on the album, and writes, produces and engineers the final product from start to finish.

Chunky guitar, thumping bass and heavy reverb pin this album squarely in the category of dub reggae, but there’s nothing square about it. Ticklah is a creator of the highest musical order, perfecting his sound, tweaking it to the extreme with delay and assorted effects. Highlights include the anti-swine ode "Pork Eater," featuring guest vocalist Rob Symeonn, and the two Eddie Palmieri reworkings, "Mi Sonsito" and "Si Hecho Palante," both featuring the incredible Mayra Vega on sultry Latin-cum-reggae-tinged vocals.

With Ticklah vs. Axelrod, Ticklah proves dub is still the slickest sound around. Expect this disc to smolder awhile underground (its rightful birthplace) before totally taking over worldwide.