Music » CD Reviews

Jah Wobble/Bill Laswell / Jah Wobble and Deep Space

Beach Fervour Square (Axiom/Palm) / Radioaxiom (32Hertz)


Radioaxiom is a smooth, dub-based release by bassist Jah Wobble and bassist/producer/ remixer/atmosphericist Bill Laswell. Beach Fervour Square, an import, is one of several discs in an ambitious, progressive series produced by Wobble, an old friend of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten. It features a gang of experimentalists including drummer Mark Sanders, ambient composer Paul Schultze, and windmaster Clive Bell, on everything from melodica to goathorn. Deeply influenced by Miles Davis's In a Silent Way, the Wobble/Laswell is the leaner album and, unlike Beach Fervour Square, features vocals. In addition to such musicians as guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, organist Amina Claudine Myers, and trumpeters Graham Haynes and Nils Peter Molvaar, it showcases remarkable Ethiopian vocalist Gigi, enhanced by the even more obscure singer Tigist Shibabaw, on the tracks "Alsema Dub" and "Alam Dub." (Those who crave more Gigi should search out Gigi, a solo disc produced by Laswell.) Radioaxiom vamps on trance and pulse in seven tracks of seamless segue, liquid beat, and ambiance as inviting as a poolside drink.

Beach Fervour Square blends the underwater reggae atmospherics of Lee Scratch Perry with the hothouse art rock of '70s Pink Floyd. More cumulative than Radioaxiom, it also has more dimension, if less form. "As Night Falls," a long mini-suite at the center of the album, nails Wobble's aim. As Bell puts it in his liner notes: "Wobble and Deep Space seek the classic mystical vision: achieving a higher state via discipline, inspiration, and subordination of the individual to the group purpose." Laswell may be the loss leader here -- he's the trophy name, what with remixing Davis, Cuban street songs, and Carlos Santana -- but Wobble's sensibility dominates. Wobble, too, has put in eclectic time, with Public Image Ltd. and his own Invaders of the Heart. Both albums suggest that the man born John Wardle is at home no matter who's in his musical family.

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