For those who follow Skank Blog closely, or if you’re one of the lucky owners of our Spiky Dread LP, you’ll have heard Bullen aiding fellow South London experimentalists Family Fodder on “Bass Adds Bass”. And for those that don’t, you probably know him as one third of This Heat.
It’s odd that whilst This Heat’s output seems informed by dub’s deconstruction, it wasn’t until after they disbanded that Bullen went full skank with this self released six-tracker which sporadically changes hands for an arm and a leg.
Unlike much Skank Blog fodder, For A Reason is almost entirely a reggae record but in Bullen’s hands, reggae is merely a contorted backbone for his drone-like melodies and imploding lyrics, his shimmering production offsetting these dulcet dirges.
At times the album shifts in style, from the poly-rhythmic refrain of the title track, to the Berberesque “Travelling”, but there’s a reggae aesthetic simmering in the mix throughout. Even with album closer “Patience” sounding like it’s about to break into an Al Green foot tapper – the drums pushing against the bass line like a scruffy Al Jackson Jr – there’s an evergreen dub-melodica snaking it’s way around the beat and somehow tying it all together.
This might not be the easiest album to track down but it’s well worth the effort, and in the meantime, why not wet your whistle with the album opener..?
And if you’ve got a spare 45 minutes, here’s Bullen and his This Heat cohorts performing live in 1980.