1/ Ph neutre (Brain Damage,Lab) 4.31 Brain Damage Meets Lab 2/ The Soundless Hum of Prayer (remix) (Philosophy Major) 4.04 Philosophy Major 3/ Finite State Machine Dub (Laswell) 4.49 Bill Laswell with Sly & Robbie 4/ Modimo (Zion Train) 5.08 Zion Train 5/ Eyupsultan (King Fader Mix) (Systemwide) 6.55 Systemwide 6/ Disco Lips (Scharin) 5.32 HIM 7/ Twlight Circus Meets WordSound Inna (Moore) 4.02 Crooklyn 2003 Style Twilight Circus 8/ Boombastic (Fernando) 4.25 Roots Control 9/ A Touch of Romance (Darlington) 3.28 Prince Charming 10/ Smoke Damage (Harding) 7.52 Scotty Hard 11/ Ladies & Gentlemen.... Always (Teledubgnosis) 4.01 Teledubgnosis 12/ Al Qaida (The Bass) (Fernando) 4.51 Spectre 13/ Pleasure Ruin Dub (DJ/rupture) 3.25 DJ/rupture Track 3 engineered by Robert Musso Track 3 assistant: James Dellatacoma Track 3 produced by Bill Laswell Track 5 remixed by Jay Bozich Track 6 produced by Doug Scharin Track 7 produced by Ryan Moore Track 8 produced by The Eye Compiled and produced by the Ill Saint Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtletone StudiosSly Dunbar (3): drums; Christian Dautresme, Doug Scharin, Fred Erskine, Joe Goldring, Kristen Anna, Rob Mazurek (6): all instruments; Ryan Moore (7): drums, bass, keyboards; Rafi Benjamin (13): guitar.
2004 - WordSound (USA), WSLP048 (2x12") 2004 - WordSound (USA), WSCD048 (CD)
David Dacks (courtesy of the Exclaim! website)
If you are tired of endless Bunny Lee/King Tubby's re-issues, if you are tired of shallow Bashment beats and the sometimes cynical materialism of that genre, if you are tired of clichéd roots acts reworking the same old musical signatures again and again, and find yourself looking elsewhere for music to fire your imagination, then Word Sound may have something to offer you.
In their favour, Word Sound avoid the all too obvious pitfalls and clichés of their chosen genre. This is not revivalist music. Nor is it tired and cold digital formulas rehashed ad infinitum with cynicism.
If you loved the depth, sheer intellect and sonic inventiveness of Glen Brown, Tubby, Adrian Sherwood, Cabaret Voltaire, Black Ark, Muslim Gauze, Steve Reich, John Cage and Can, then you may be pleased to hear that on the evidence here, Word Sound love such diversity too. Not that they are going to reproduce those influences indiscriminately for their audience, far from it. That imitation and emulation would be too easy. Rather, they absorb those esoteric vibrations, and produce quite a new fruit for the listener.
Be assured though, if you are looking for classical roots and culture or old skool dub, this may not be the direction to look in.
If you are however, looking for darkly atmospheric, intelligent, carefully composed, evocative and unnerving sounds, then you have come to the right place.
Brain Damage open the album with an eerie sound: fire crackling or water falling, it is unclear which, but it plays with your mind to fine effect as the bass and treble frequencies twist and turn. As the track progresses it becomes more and more bizarre, sounding like Link Wray meets Holger Czukay, with Tubby's at the controls.
As Brain Damage fade out their track with the crackle of a wood fire, the next band is Philosophy, who offer up "Soundless Hum of Prayer."
Twilight Circus (who recently released the explosive orthodoxy of "Foundation Rockers") provide a fretless slap bass funk with brittle scattershot congas giving atmosphere to the pugnacious groove. It sounds like Herbie Hancock's early 80's experiments with Sly and Robbie, tunes like "Sound System", "Rough", and "Rockit". Ryan Twilight proves that he is going from strength to strength, not falling in to the stagnant trap of sticking with one rigid formula. Excellent! Some of the melodies on this Twilight track sound eerily monastic, otherworldly and detached, the music of dreams.
The true high point of the album though, has to be "Pleasure Ruin" by Rupture. A sampled vocal recites a list of ruined cities and cultural epi-centres of knowledge - "Nineveh...Persepolis..Babylon...Akropolis...Angkor..." runs the recital, whilst bass frequencies veer and twist cyclically beneath evocative high frequencies, underscoring the emotional and cerebral imagery.
Other outstanding tracks come from HIM, and the Angelo Badalamenti inspired Teledubgnosis. You may like to check out the latter's powerful release, "Magnetic Learning Curve" album. One for all the PIL/Metal Box bass heads.
The HIM track is constructed and made up of backward spiralling choral voices and Brian Eno/Miles Davis style keyboard and horns arrangements. As the magical voice begins to break up and distort, a Buster Williams/ "Bush of Ghosts" bass line lifts and leads the melody.
Judging from the occult/magikal terminology and mental imagery evoked by Word Sound, it seems they are preoccupied with music as a force of wisdom and alkhemikal transformation, a kind of transformation through noise catharsis/ contemplation.
It works very well, and is ultimately, mentally uplifting and provocative. This album is a really powerful and intelligent release to start the New Year with.
Greg Whitfield (courtesy of the Reggae News website)