You should never judge an album on its list of guest credits alone. But given the readymade significance of legends Jon More, Matt Black and Adrian Sherwood making good on a fantasy soundclash, be prepared to make an exception. With the former saying themselves they owe their storied careers to the latter, the heavyweight steps up to super heavyweight before you’ve checked that Toddla T, Switch, Roots Manuva, Lee Scratch Perry and Junior Reid are also helping form a watertight dub justice league.
Traditional blueprints and flavours come with enough tweak – and twerk – to them to give them the edge, the extra dimension lying in the detail of balancing digital and analogue, and making as much noise as possible. The fun ‘Aztec Riddim’ winds a prism of sound into another dimension, and ‘Kajra Mohobbat Wala’ takes the dancefloor deep into atomically Moog’d Bollywood for a refreshing twist-up. Two-for-one ‘Make Up Your Mind’ is not quite an answer record for the end of the night, but gives Ce’Cile and Elan their own time to put forward their cases regarding a stalling relationship, with lovely longing violins earning centre stage while battle lines are drawn.
Opening digi-skank ‘Vitals’ spirals into taking the Doctor Who theme off course with a dubstep-ish hint of P Money’s ‘Slang Like This’: a melon-twister with Roots Manuva making a good case for becoming the new timelord, and just as good in dub format. Dave ‘Switch’ Taylor gets ‘Metro’ retraining the glassy synths of his remix of Armand van Helden’s ‘Je T’aime’, then leaves his lasered fingerprints all over the desk-banging ‘Livid Hip Hop’ like a cipher goading wary entrants.
Solar-powered up until the point of the markedly more hard-bitten ‘Robbery’, with Rholin X leading a rousing chorus to ride and raid with him, ‘Outside the Echo Chamber’ concisely concentrates soundsystem business for summer parades with something to say, sweet soul carrying a stridency to talk over. It would’ve been a long shot for the names on the flyer to let you down: all ten tracks, and their accompanying dub allies, have the presence and sound to claim dancehalls by the fistful.
Words: Matt Oliver
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