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The best kept secret in music


"Calamalka "Shredders Dub" Pitchfork review"

The Stooges are feted for "industrializing" rock and roll, their assembly-lined rhythms imitating Detroit factories that clanged together modern America's crux of survival. Later, Kraftwerk's "machine-music" romanticized the autobahn as a symphony where the daydreamers forget destinations and accident risks. Somehow dub reggae is lost in this discussion. Machines made classic dub possible. King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry employed tape speeds, echoplexes, and delay boxes to mutate traditional reggae into after-hours hallucinations. The dub rhythm's traditional Caribbean element of hitting right on the four and nearly missing the beat, arguably resembles a machine worn by years of dried grease and friction.

Michael Campitelli (Calamalka) mostly captures dub's factory life in Shredders Dub. The Vancouverian's debut album has a rich atmosphere that inhabits a rehearsal space tucked underneath a junk-shop's trapdoor. Blistered hands master the music's craftsmanship. The raw beats are usually thwacked on a live trapkit like a sledgehammer-- quite a relief from the bald-shaven drum machines heard in so much digital-dub. The live basslines maintain a steady groove without either deafening the room or falling flat. Campitelli also avoids cluttering his lysergic excursions with the debris of aimless guitar strums and B-flick inspired "cosmic" noises that infest like flu germs. However, he's still faithful to dub's common dreariness and stubborn hope for salvation.

Half of Shredders' tunes are meant to shout through a car's disintegrating subwoofers in the dead of night. "Hear the Most" sets this mood by throwing the listener out into the moonless streets that, no matter the loneliness, are never empty. A distant funeral bell marks the time, as the ring-modulated voices whisper in one's ear, and the bass and snares stomp their feet like a stalker picking up the pace behind you. In keeping with Shredders' other bludgeoning raveups, those same footsteps could be mistaken for factories. "Chassi" connects dub to thrash and funk with distorted bass, a cement-shoed hip-hop rhythm, and a Rhodes that honks through a gridlock. The equally sinister "Bumpea" broods on the E-string with switchbladed rimshots and an orbiting satellite that recovers a lost broadcast of a keyboard played at a 1970 Miles Davis Fillmore gig. If Campitelli woke up a bit during the stiff drum solo that ends the song, he'd be a richer man. But machines can't change their minds.

The rest of Shredders steps away from the industrial dogpatches and floats in a narcotic haze, sometimes finding beauty and sometimes waiting too long to exhale. The best is "Lighting Rigg", whose jazz-guitar riffs bloom like sunshine through the gray Atlantic. "Electric Blue" also picks up that vibe and drizzles microtones upon the sea. Too bad Campitelli is too complacent to swim up to the surface, as he deadpans under deep medication, "I am what it is be reliable," in the otherwise engrossing "Reliable I". The album's weakest moment, "Gamblor", is a rather dour and cumbersome space-out that doesn't pick up until minute seven-- though extra brownie points go to the song title's Simpsons reference, a brief instance of comic relief that lightens Shredders Dub's carefully crafted claustrophobia.

-Cameron Macdonald, October 13th, 2004

"Calamalka "Shredders Dub" just add noise review"

Through a skater's eyes, everything is in comparative terms to skating, and in Michael Campitelli's world, any good musical creation is the same as a good trick. Many aspects count when considering wealth: style, execution, originality, combination and the overall performance - not just a single trick. And not just a single track.

While being akin to hip-hop beatmakers and electronic peddlers of all walks, dub practitioners cover the entire gamut of quality and style. Calamalka has both, in spades. He takes the road less traveled; steering clear of sterile, digital production and over abundance of sound effects in favor of warm, organic instrumentation and a handful of funk instead of a pinch.

I can't remeber the last time an hour passed me by as quickly as it did getting lost in the thick, heady clouds of bass and intricate melodic details. I'm always looking forward to what's next from Plug Research and usually pleased with anything that has the word Dub in the title. Two pluses before I could get the cd in the changer and not a let down track to be found.

This debut full length, it's like landing a perfect nollie over a huge gap. On the first try! Grab a copy. Grab your board. Go shred!


"Campitelli goes deep into Dub as Calamalka"

Campitelli Goes Deep Into Dub as Calamalka

By martin turenne

Publish Date: 6-Jan-2005

There's no way to know for sure, but there's probably never been a heavier record to come out of Vancouver than Calamalka's Shredders Dub. Mastered at the same plant in Berlin where digi-dub pioneers Rhythm & Sound press their notoriously cavernous recordings, Shredders Dub contains the sort of punishing low-end frequencies that can almost buckle a person's knees at high volume.

The maker of this nasty slab of wax is Michael Campitelli, a musician whose affable manner contrasts with the brutalizing sounds he produces under his guise as Calamalka. Chatting at a Kingsway diner, the easygoing drummer hardly seems like the type of person who could make the ferocious noises on Shredders Dub, an album that sounds as if it were recorded somewhere south of Hades. Just about all that's missing from this fearsome outing are the apocalyptic vocals of a Jamaican soothsayer, but the album's perhaps all the more scary for being instrumental, its room-filling echoes hinting at unknowable terrors.

Calamalka was born in Campitelli's East Vancouver basement in the late 1990s. A long-time drummer-about-town, the Summerland native started by spending hours jamming along to his collection of Rhythm & Sound 12-inches, bravura records that honed dub reggae down to its essential elements: groove and space. Soon, Calamalka moved his sessions out of the basement and into Miller Block Studios on Hastings Street, where he invited bassist Chris Carlson and guitarist Brian McKendry to record a series of improv sessions. For the drummer--who's manned the kit in several rock outfits, including Kinnie Starr's--the chance to play minimal instrumental tracks reenergized his flagging passions for music.

"After being in rock bands for so long, I didn't want to hear any lead guitars or singing anymore," he says. "This is how sick I had gotten of that stuff: I'd be listening to music and I'd be liking it, but as soon as the vocals came on, I'd have to turn it off. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy singers now, but at that point, all I wanted to hear were the bass and the drums."

Rightly citing dub as the precursor to his favourite forms of music--from techno to hip-hop to postpunk--Calamalka dug into the archives, actively seeking out the form's masters: King Tubby, Scientist, and Lee "Scratch" Perry. The influence of those innovators is audible in the way Calamalka's sound posits the groove as the scaffold upon which all other musical elements hang. What results are trance-inducing tracks that demand your total surrender.

"When you're dealing with music that's really repetitive, it only becomes great once you give in to the repetition," Campitelli says. "People have a hard time getting past that, but when you let yourself really sink into the pocket of the rhythm, you're just locked. It's like you don't want it to end."

In 2000, the producer pressed his first solo outing, Calamalka EP, and then followed up that release by recording some sample-based hip-hop with local up-and-comers Usual Suspecs. Campitelli went on to score local filmmaker Nathaniel Geary's gritty street drama, On the Corner, eventually compiling his work for release on Vancouver's Transsiberian Records.

Where those OTC pieces were built exclusively from dusty vinyl samples, it was the more freeform live feel of Calamalka EP that caught the ears of Allen Avanessian, the head of Los Angeles's well-regarded Plug Research label. Within months, the SoCal imprint was asking the Vancouverite if he'd like to put out an album. With only a few new solo tracks in the bank, the producer dug up the tapes he'd recorded with Carlson and McKendry, sessions that compose two-thirds of Shredders Dub. These older songs are in some ways the album's best, suffused as they are with the slight slippages and unrepeatable feints of improv playing.

"You can really tell [which songs are collaborative] because the ones that those guys are on are just basically live jam sessions," says Campitelli, who plays the Lamplighter on January 21. "It was like, 'Here's a really loose idea. Now let's just play.' Those songs end up being way more sinewy than the ones I did on my own, because the ones by me were made with a metronome with the intention that they would be mixable by DJs."

Whether the sessions were recorded by the trio or by Campitelli alone, they only became songs after the fact, when the producer tweaked the mix in the grandest of dub traditions. Under his guiding hand, Carlson's bass swallows up the room and the snares crack for days, all sounds bathed in a swirling vat of delay and echo.

"That's just the dub way of mixing," says the producer. "I like to run every sound through some kind of process. A lot of studio guys are like, 'Run it clean and run it dry and then mess with it after.' But I run effects in and I run effects out.

"That's the part of it I enjoy the most," he continues. "Tracking is tracking. But when you start dubbing it out, that's when it becomes really interesting. Ultimately, I'd love to have a band of robots playing the music and me being like Mad Professor, just tweaking it all on the board."

Kraftwerk gone dub? Sounds good to us, too.

- The Georgis Straight

"Calamalkas intercontinental drift is right on course"

May 19 2005 TERMINAL CITY, page 11

I’m Calamalka, I guess,” says Mike Campitelli
modestly. The Vancouver-based musician and
producer is still somewhat chagrinned that the
day’s golfing outing to Queen Elizabeth Park
did not see his drumming prowess translate to the putting
green. Joined by guitar and bass players Bryan McKendry
and Doug Phillips (absent is “ethereal” keyboardist Johnny
Mollsin), Campitelli is a veteran skateboarder “who still
likens any track to a well-styled trick,” and has toured and
done session work for a variety of artists and bands like Nefro,
Kinnie Starr and Lux, in addition to producing his own
music. He’s also an artist, exhibiting paintings and designing
graphics to accompany his musical efforts.
Campitelli began the millennium with the independent
release of his first 12”, entitled the Calamalka EP, which
attracted the attention of producers like Ryan Moore of
Twilight Circus, Stephen Betke of Pole, and Omar Clemetson
of Supersoul. “It’s cool that they recognise what I’m doing,”
he exclaims, noting that a lot of his greatest admirers
seem to be in Europe at the moment, especially following
the release in 2004 of Shredder’s Dub on Plug Research
and the On The Corner soundtrack on Transsiberian. “We
were invited to Holland on a couple of occasions, as well
as France and Germany. It’s just a matter of putting it all
together and making it sensible.”
Calamalka is quickly becoming less of a solo vehicle for
Campitelli and more of a collaborative effort between all
the parties involved. “I was doing something with Transsiberian—
I did the [On The Corner] soundtrack with
them—I went and drank beer with Danny, and then he introduced
me to Doug,” he reflects, underscoring how all
great relationships are conceived. Convincing Bryan to join
Calamalka was a little more dubious, involving the financing
of a guitar as a Christmas present. It was, as Campitelli
jokes, “ kind of like buying him into the band.” While McKendry
concedes that “Mike is obviously the creative centre,”
who always brings “a new idea to work on,” Campitelli
is always the first to point out they’re, “doing more stuff as
a band.”
The trick may lie in the fact that while Campitelli is “basically
making music all day long,” Phillips and McKendry
are ceaselessly bound to the doldrums of full-time employment.
Nevertheless, the synergy that exists between the
members of the band has led to a live experience that is
both inspiring and exhilarating. “The recording and the
live show are two completely different things,” notes Phillips,
with Campitelli adding that although both mediums
are markedly drum and bass driven, concerts are “just not
quite as subdued.” “I think I add punctuation to the music
with repetitive delay shots and a little twang,” remarks
McKendry, as Phillips quips that the cohesiveness of the
lineup itself has brought nothing less than a “balls to the
walls willingness to do whatever we can to make it sound
fucking rad!” “We’ve got some kind of mojo going on,” admits
Campitelli, “although, I don’t know what it is.”
Of course, Calamalka has been forced to go to great
lengths in order to avoid being confined to the ultimately
limiting category of mere dub, invoking a host of influences
such as Bad Brains, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, and A Tribe
Called Quest in the process. “I’m not trying to be dub,” says
Campitelli, as he begins to touch on the role skateboarding
has played throughout his musical career. Reflecting on
the title of Shredder’s Dub, he speaks of wanting “people to
look at it from the musical perspective of skateboarding,”
which to him amounts to “being really open-minded.”
Besides Sunday’s all-ages Music Waste Showcase and
DJ sets Thursday, May 19 with Plug Research label mate
Daedelus at the Lamplighter and Friday, May 20 at Blim,
the members of Calamalka will be busy this spring. They
recently finished a recording session at The Hive with producer/
engineer Colin Stewart, whom Campitelli praises as
“just a good guy to work with.” Between recordings, Campitelli
can always fall back on his other persona, DJ Boneless,
in the guise of which he spins “horrible, trashy metal,”
consisting of a single song called, “Black Forest/Fuck You
Apple.” Charming. McKendry, meanwhile, talks excitedly
of the Moon Cussers, a band that is doing the “instrumentation
and backup vocals for a new record by Kingsway,”
and Phillips raves about having “just started playing in Mao
Tse-Fun,” an art-punk band/political party being led by the
mysterious demagogue, Ill Duce. Another Calamalka fulllength
could soon be a reality, but not before the arrival of
a slightly shorter version… Campitelli and wife Michelle
are expecting their first child any day now.

- Terminal City

"Calamalka "Shredders Dub" splendid zine review"

In the early eighties, DC's Bad Brains were largely responsible for bringing reggae to shaved, mohawked and nappy heads throughout the hardcore scene that they co-dominated. One of the young punks they indoctrinated was Vancouver skateboarder Michael Campitelli, who quickly became fascinated by roots artists like Lee "Scratch" Perry and Mad Professor, as well as the dub-inspired beats of Pete Rock and Public Enemy's Terminator X. Campitelli's first full-length (after several collaborations, an EP and his On the Corner soundtrack) distills these influences and updates them with the frigid, clicky dankness of acts like Pole and Burger/Ink.

Shredders Dub opens with a cutting snare thwack like snapping celery, immediately heralding the prominence of live instrumentation that shares equal space with Campitelli's beats. He's not against getting mired in dub's inherited industrial dinginess, but his and Chris Carlson's bass, as well as his own drumming, shoot off of his songs like flying sparks, lifting them out of their potential same-sounding mush. The technique helps to align Calamalka with the lax instrumental folk-hop of fellow skateboarder Tommy Guerrero, whose songs are more scatter-brained but share a similar, distantly derived dub aesthetic.

A languorous pace and a three-blunts-to-the-wind smokiness ties these tracks together, but each cut contains at least one element that sets it apart. Brian McKendry's guitar, with its dense reverb and decadent wah-wah, provides the soft spaciness behind "Auterzonik" and the scene-stealing "Lighting Rigg", a euphoric slice of aural heroin (I'm conjecturing). Lo-Prophet's nervous, cut-up vocals on "Reliable I" evoke vintage ragga. "Tabla Purists" exploits the rhythmic potential of its titular drum, though it's buried under McKendry's heady guitars and some beautifully raked electric piano.

Calamalka's music is islands away from Bad Brains' manic speed-punk, but the Brains' spirit of radical musical fusion is alive in Shredders Dub. From a basis of dub, Campitelli has stacked on fluid live instrumentation, stoner rock-inspired guitars and an array of pan-genre tropes. Even as he moves further away from his punk roots, this skater continues to land sick tricks.


"Calamalka "Shredders Dub" pop matters review"

The most significant aspect of Shredder's Dub is that its seduction is not relegated only to the dub enthusiast. As a whole, Calamalka's efforts pry into more than one genre. These ethereal jaunts into the gaping unknown shan't be shuffled alongside just the dub platters, not because there isn't plenty of dub mayhem here, because there is, but Calamalka uses leering hip-hop beats as a vehicle to spread such mayhem evenly over every selection.

Michael Campitelli is called Calamalka for producer and musician purposes. He found his way over to Plug Research in 2003 after pressing his own 12" EP a few years earlier and filling some time by touring and in hip-hop production. His collaboration with Vancouver neighbors Usual Suspecs landed on Canada-based Urbnet's Underground Hip Hop Volume One and he filed some beats with an interested director for a feature film called On the Corner. He's regularly behind the decks in Vancouver as DJ Boneless, spinning skate rock and is pumping kraut rock through a laptop with a band called Acid Castle. This laundry list of current and past side projects kept Campitelli busy while his first full length for Plug Research was being prepped for release.

The remarkable by-product of Campitelli's interest in skateboarding, Bad Brains, Pete Rock, Lee Perry and DJ Premier rears its head on every recording on Shredder's Dub, but a noteworthy selection tumbles through "Chassis" on track three. "Chassis's" drum sound comes from the corner of the garage while abrasive bursts of organ play in and around its defiant, wah-wah bass. Campitelli adds fierce scraping atmospherics after the two-minute mark, backing up the drums occasionally and eventually stepping up the organ's role a bit, tying together everything with a countering ghostly guitar melody in the far background. Fattening things up like track three, or say, record reviews, works on Shredder's Dub, but Campitelli overturns the workflow for "Bumpea" midway through the album.

"Bumpea" is upbeat and rampant with stuttering fits of snare and keys. He begins with just the wiry tempo, and adds the other elements immediately, so that they help carry the party until its brief vanishing. The producer rests for only seconds before re-introducing a line of the crisp snare breaks that are clearly worthy of sampling. They're cut off, and a dreary, slumped-over dub arrangement takes the floor for the subsequent track. "Reliable I" falls closest to the category of the dub plate, as guest Lo-Prophet assumes the "toast" MC role, adding bits and pieces of vocal to the sleepy mix. Echo is everywhere here; pushing drum cracks front and center. When scratching sneaks into the game, this Calamalka entry sounds as if it belongs to DJ Spooky.

The album's flaws are in the area of innovation. Campitelli needs to do more in the way of developing ideas with these beats. An instrumental foray should showcase the producer's/DJ's ability to keep the party in listening party. Brevity would do well to be considered on Calamalka's next release, if only in the interest of preserving his already unique ideas and highlighting the ones that definitely exist here.

While dub is primarily a genre of remixes, i.e. bending an original formula into grotesque contortions by way of adding echo and other effects, Shredder's Dub culls its groundwork from no specific King Tubby recreation. Campitelli's 12 tracks comprise a prominent exploration of the dub and hip-hop crossbreed, even if the cup should runneth over with more ideas. Shredder's Dub is a strong and interesting example of the producer's daring intentions.



Calamalka "10-9 volts" Plug Tunes Vol 1 (Metatronix)
Calamalka "calaloo" Plug Tunes Vol 2 (Metatronix)
Calamalka "calamalka e.p." (Stereo-Vidual)
Calamalka "Shredders Dub" ( Plug Research)
Michael P. Campitelli " On The Corner" OST (Transsiberian


Feeling a bit camera shy


we are influenced by dub, hip-hop, IDM, bounce, grime, even a little bit of house. I can promise that you have never heard anything like calamalka before....imagine a live band emulating crunk beats with swirling dub style accents and deep bass lines. Beginning in the year 2000 vancouver based producer/musician Calamalka a.k.a. Michael Campitelli has been steadily releasing music and garnering praise in publications such as URB “calamalka is my chronic on this e.p.”, XLR8R ”we may have just stumbled upon the bastard child of Pole and Monolake” and most recently with his latest effort “Shredders Dub” has managed to earn a hearty 8. on the much revered Over the last five years Calamalka has worked with labels such as the Miami based Metatronix and Los Angeles’s Plug Research as well as scoring his first feature film soundtrack for “On The Corner” a Vancouver based indie hit directed by Nathaniel Geary and subsequently a winner of numerous awards locally and over seas that was also released as an official soundtrack cd with Transiberian records. Calamalka has either djed, done live P.A. or played with his backing band with acts such as.... Cannibal Ox, Mr.Lif, Supersoul, Skam, Why?, Out Hud, Deadelus, Royal Trux and New Kingdom and is currently finishing up an e.p. for Plug Research as well as a new full length.