By Gareth Stevens

Aba Shanti-I brought deep Dub Reggae joy to the crowd at St Mary in the Castle last night. I felt what Remi Vibesman, the event’s promoter, described as “the glee and excitement on everyone’s face as they approached the box office. This is a long overdue tonic. A wellness and spiritual session like no other. “

Aba Shanti-I is a sound system operator and producer who has played throughout the UK and Europe for over 30 years. His spiritual home is the annual Notting Hill carnival where he has been a regular highlight since 1993, the year in which DJ magazine dubbed him the No. 1 DJ in the world.

Aba Shanti-I

To see Aba ply his trade is to witness a master at work. He wasn’t up on the stage hidden behind a desk fiddling with CDs or sound files, he was down amongst us, dancers on 3 sides, vinyl decks at his eye level – seamlessly changing records on one deck at the same time as toasting, before quickly gliding his fingers over a vertical stack of amps to skilfully adjust faders, crank up the reverb or apply delay. 

The levels of bass that flowed from monolithic columns of speakers were seismic. Those low-end frequencies moved through your body via every route and rearranged your internal organs. Discard spurious conspiracies, this felt like the only real and very nourishing ‘Great Reset’.

The impact of dub reggae’s influence on every genre of electronic dance music is inestimable. The great pioneers of this art form like King Tubby and Aba himself literally transformed music and the role of the producer. Clearly, club culture would not exist at all in its present form without sound systems such as Aba Shanti-I.

St Mary in the Castle is a deconsecrated church and, some may think, an unusual venue for such an event. The prominent photograph of Haile Selassie up on the stage above Aba’s head had a ‘sign of the times’ poignancy given its context.

We have the great Remi Vibesman to thank for this amazing event. Beautifully organised, the light show was so sympathetic to the venue and one can’t help but be impressed by Remi’s attention to detail and work ethic. Currently in his last year of a degree in Nursing, and at a time when he is driving ambulances three days a week and enjoying the new life of his recently arrived son, he still finds the reserves to host events like this under the moniker of Hidden Beach. More than that, he determinedly focuses on emphasising well-being and spirituality. Thank you Remi.

I was lucky to catch up with the man himself briefly after his set and he extolled the special vibe that Hastings has. On the venue he said, “It is always a joy to work in the house of the Lord.’’

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