Photographers: Kishi Yamamoto; Pankow.
Four primary factors distinguish Adrian Sherwood's earlier productions and remixes, anthologized on Sherwood at the Controls, Vol. 1: 1979-1984, from the later work gathered here. The September 1983 murder of close friend Prince Far I temporarily pushed Sherwood away from reggae. Shortly after that, while in the U.S. on business, he bonded with Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald, and Doug Wimbish, progressive session pros who had played together on "Rapper's Delight" and "The Message," among other cuts. Sherwood's work with that trio, scattered across dozens of 12" and full-length releases during the latter half of the '80s, is summarized with a front-loaded batch on this second volume. Whether backing the Pop Group's Mark Stewart or operating as Tackhead or Fats Comet, the quartet made a futurist fusion racket like no one else. In the mix was chest-quaking percussion, basslines that struck blows as much as they held grooves, chopped-up samples, and an array of effects that took dub farther out. During the same period, Sherwood continued to work with punk and alternative acts, such as Flux and Ministry, who succeeded in sounding nervier, more abrasive. The supreme pairing was with the Beatnigs, whose "Television," a purposefully disorienting whirl of alarmist agitprop, was recast by Sherwood with battering drums and frontman Michael Franti's clipped interjections scudding between the left and right channels. As Sherwood recounts in the liner notes, he gravitated back to reggae when BBC presenter Steve Barker proposed a Lee "Scratch" Perry/Dub Syndicate collaboration that resulted in the 1987 album Time Boom X De Devil Dead, though recordings here from Dub Syndicate and Bim Sherman date from 1985 and 1986. It's mildly frustrating that these last slots go to decent previously unreleased tracks when prime and representative material was left off or, in the case of Nine Inch Nails' "Down in It," impossible to license. Still, this is almost as crucial as the preceding volume and Science Fiction Dancehall Classics, the Sherwood/On-U Sound-centric package compiled by Trevor Jackson. ~ Andy Kellman