1/ The Greatest Thing You Never Heard (A WordSound Dubumentary) 74.00 2/ A Few Words With Bill Laswell 21.00 3/ Spectre - Pillars Of Smoke (Return To The Temple) featuring Sensational 4/ Metabolics - M-Virus featuring Big Pat and Mr. Dead 5/ Prince Paul - Booty Clap featuring - Ilmatic Motion and Jason X 6/ Crooked: The Hype (Trailer) "The Greatest Thing You Never Heard" written/produced/directed by Skiz Fernando aka Spectre, The Ill Saint "Pillars Of Smoke" directed by Skiz Fernando and Panoptic "M-Virus" directed by Booker T. Mattison "Booty Clap" directed by Kevon Ford 2004 - WordSound (USA), WSCD0050 (DVD)
Beginning with the very apt quote 'Music is our secret society' director Skiz Fernando takes us from 1994 to the present day, giving profiles of all the interesting characters who feature on his label along the way, not to mention some star names in the world of hip-hop and dub who drop jewels of knowledge every so often. Who would expect DJ Premier to show up at the start of this wild journey? EPMD? Rza? And then out of nowhere, some hilariously brief footage of Lee Scratch Perry to round off the first encounter, the first real taste of how interesting, silly and beautifully random this DVD is going to be. To count all of the guests who make an appearance would be fruitless, as Skiz clearly has tonnes of archive footage he's willing to share in this documentary. That in itself is perhaps one of the most interesting things about this film. No-doubt there could have been a lot more of what the brainwashed viewer was accustomed to seeing in terms of documentaries, but there simply isn't. Skiz doesn't use the footage he surely had at his disposal, the sort of coherent footage that would make us all shake our heads in affirmation and say "Yes! That's it! I agree!" this isn't that. During our interview in Spring 2003, whilst revealing exclusively the plan to drop this DVD, he revealed to me how it wouldn't be you're average 'talking-head-style' documentary. Well all I can do is applaud the man for clearly sticking to that vision he spelled out to me in those few brief sentences.
This lovely ride is a mixture between artist profiles, an insight into the roots of the label itself, an almost metaphysical/spiritual narration which is wonderfully vague and a critique of modern music. It has an edge, and the intellectual side of that edge is so often displayed in the words of the grizzled, much respected musical drifter- Bill Laswell, who speaks with a powerful sense of dulled, experienced passion that you simply can't ignore. "No-ones original!" he declares, "I don't want to be original, I want to be awake. All these things that we come into in terms of ideas, that's not original, that's something the passes over you, but you have to be available for the idea wave that passes over people that gives them these opportunities. In order to do that, you need to be awake to receive that wave...."
Prince Paul's lengthy interview section is another highlight. Sitting behind the New York skyline, his typically sarcastic and laid-back interview responses bring an enjoyable level of lightness and sobriety to this psychedelic disc. When discussing how his now infamous 'Psychoanalysis: What is it?' LP and its humble, almost accidental origins, you begin to see a parallel with the WordSound experience as a whole: this label just puts out different stuff. Industry-respected hip-hop artists like Prince Paul and behind the scenes engineer Scotty Hard are able, and encouraged to put out their most off-the wall material for the label, the kind of music they'd never put out in any other situation. And guess what? People like it. Major labels like it. Experimentation works! Not giving a ---- really does pay off when the skills and love are there.
I suppose that leads me onto the most interesting thing about this DVD. It's altruism. Despite the madness, the countless hilarious episodes, moments and interviews that I have not mentioned (there's a whole 10 minute segment on Sensational for example... 'nuff said) this DVD, like the previous Wordsound feature-film Crooked, is ultimately a very uplifting and motivational work. At it's core is Skiz' apparent ambition to see others 'do what he's done' in terms of achieving success through love and hard work. That's something. For an underground label like Wordsound to remain humble like this is almost unheard of, you'd half expect the owners of any such label that has been growing and widely respected for over 10 years to become smug, self-righteous, snobbish, and yet here this film lies, somewhere between inspiration and story-telling, as a righteous example of altruism in the field of independant music. That's what I'm talking about. To ensure that your DVD collection has at least one, truly insane title in its midst, make the purchase on this great disc.
Y.Misdaq aka Yoshi (courtesy of the nefisa.co.uk website)
It may seem brash for a musician to title his semi-autobiographical documentary The Greatest Thing You Never Heard. Yet for Skiz Fernando, WordSound's proud proprietor and one of its core musical figures (recording under the alias Spectre, the Ill Saint), it seems the thing that matters most to him over the course of ten years and fifty releases is his label's passionate disdain for convention. A man on a mission, Fernando mysteriously refers to his label as if it were no longer in existence, when in fact WordSound is still flinging dubs from Brooklyn to Bahrain. His raw "dubumentary" features a series of random ramblings disguised as interviews and spontaneous hand-held live performance video footage chronicling the label's rise into a preeminent iconoclast in the dub/hip-hop space. WS50: The Video Album includes this documentary along with three videos from the label's catalog, a short trailer for Fernando's feature debut Crooked, and an exclusive sit down with WordSound luminary and legendary bassist/producer Bill Laswell. It may or may not lead you to uncover the greatest thing you've never heard, but it certainly is an honest and intimate portrait of a label and scene that has remained proudly self-governing and creative in a time of increasing media conglomeration.
Sander-Martijn Milks (courtesy of the Earplug website)