Science Fiction Dancehall Classics
Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label has been excavating overlooked oddities from the British producer’s experiments in dub reggae, first with the Sherwood At The Controls comp earlier this year and now with this collection, curated by artist Trevor Jackson, of dub-infused industrial, free jazz, punk and early hip-hop.
As the title suggests, these 27 tracks share an otherworldliness they are frequently jarring, sometimes noodling, but never far from earth thanks to clanging noises, choppy drum machines and firebrand politicking that evoke a kind of grimy proto-techno dystopia (à la early 80s London).
Though minimalist, it’s not all austere. Fats Comet’s DJ Programme adds a bit of playful, rare-groove glamour Atmosfear pairs diva vocals with a slap bass and a young, detached-sounding Neneh Cherry sings “the dead come alive / to electro jive” on Dead Come Alive.
The comp’s female voices are interestingly diverse, and their presence is as suggestive of a connection between (male-dominated) punk and pop as anything else on here. Massive Attack’s Shara Nelson turns up on Aiming At Your Heart, but the most memorable is Ari Up of the Slits, who screeches like a terrified insect on Animal Space.
Top track: Stebeni’s Theme by African Head Change