Audio Remasterer: Nick Watson.
Liner Note Author: Jah Wobble.
Diversity and experimentation have been the trademark of Jah Wobble's musical approach since leaving PiL. He's dabbled in global folk traditions, poetry, new age music, jazz fusion, electronica, and Asian and African beat sounds, all read through the lens of dub reggae. No matter how deep he goes, it remains the building block for everything else. This double-disc compilation of 37 tracks offers the evidence.
In his entertaining liner essay, Wobble writes: "I think dub is at its best when it is used with roots music, which normally tends toward pentatonic scales and no developed harmony. That pretty much applies to English Folk, swathes of sub-Saharan African and North African music, Chinese traditional music, Japanese music, American Appalachian music et al.." There are stellar examples in this package. Wobble employs aesthetics rather than chronological order in his sequencing. "Cleopatra King Size," from 1983's Shout at the Devil by Jah Wobble & Temple of Sound, opens disc one. It places dub inside North African/Middle Eastern modalism adorned by popping live electronic effects. The vocal version of "I'd Love to Take You Away," from 2007's Heart & Soul, sets up a futuristic dub version as downtempo and club soul are enhanced by melodica, a B-3, and cracking breaks. "Club Scene Dub," from 2005's Fureur, blends Chinese folk music, bubbling dreadwise dub, and massive mix-o-phonics in a rhythmic collision of blurry, percussive beauty. It bleeds into cinematic funk on "Kojak Dub," from Mu, with a Herbie Mann-esque flute, sweeping strings, and chunky wah-wah guitars. There are four new tracks from Invaders of the Heart across these discs: "Metamorphosis" employs ambient reggae and dance music amid spacy jazz funk; "Forest Funk Dub" juxtaposes tropes by James Brown, Fela, Ray Barretto, and Herbie Hancock; "Forest Fate Dub" is elastic, humid, and rootsy, while "Inspector Out of Space" delivers a hard interstellar ska groove. Nocturnal jazz fusion, North African modalism, and roots reggae on "Night" (off The Light Programme) is a high-water mark, as is "Alam Dub," one of two tracks here documenting Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission, Wobble's collaboration with Bill Laswell. The Thai choral chants on "Lam Saravane," from Molam Dub, are peeled back to one voice on its dub version, and accompanied by strident folk fiddles, harmoniums, clattering percussion, and Wobble's bass. The set closer is "Tyger Tyger," William Blake's poem, soundtracked with an unrefined yet majestic Celtic-cum-reggae melody. While the bassist and composer's musical range was already well displayed on his massive Redux box, this more economical slice focusing on his core enterprise is easier to absorb. As such, it delivers an excellent portrait of Wobble as disciple, master, and prophet of dub. ~ Thom Jurek
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