Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Version 2 Version, A Dub Transmission
Bill Laswell (With Jah Wobble)
ROIR
CD
November 24, 2005

Track list
  1. Dystopia
  2. Simulacra
  3. Space-Time Paradox
  4. Babylon Site
  5. Night City
  6. System Malfunction
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 3 Production : 3 Sound quality : 3 Sleeve : 3
The sound here is hypnotic, psychedelic -- but that’s what we have come to expect from Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble. These tracks sound as influenced by Indian Raga structures and Moroccan Sufi music as dub.

Both Wobble and Laswell records demand patience to bear with the structures to see what patterns emerge -- they are similar in that sense to mid 70’s extended James Brown mixes which moved and shifted over a ten minute primal and pivotal bass line. This is music like a journey, a landscape, not tracks you can judge within a few minutes.

“Simulacra” takes Baudrillard’s central critical concept as its inspiration. Baudrillard opined that modern life in the late 20th century/early 21st century was marked by a global society which celebrated the fake and the imitation : “real life” was elsewhere, replaced by a copy which people eagerly consume -- but are left with a sense of emptiness. People in a world dominated by simulacra are reduced to being mere passive consumers/observers on life -- “reality” is replaced by simulacra without us even realising.

Some of the bass lines are too obvious -- “Babylon Site” and “Night City” being prime examples. The latter also borrows far too common a vocal sample from “Declaration of Rights“-- why choose such a stereotypical reference point? “System Malfunction” borrows a well worn Tubby’s / Augustus Pablo's Rockers' drum sample. Surely unnecessary for veterans like Wobble and Laswell?

This album works on the terms Laswell and Wobble set for themselves these days -- those terms seem to be very long extended ambient bass jams-- But this album says so very little we havent already heard countless times over the last 30 years. For two highly regarded musicians such as this -- it is surprising to hear that there is barely anything original about this work, from the opening notes to the closing ones.

Tranquil and highly competent as this style is -- one can’t help feeling these veterans have far more innovative projects up their sleeves. After all, Wobble and Laswell contributed to two of the most subversive albums of their generation -- PIL’s “Metal Box” and Brian Eno’s “My Life Inna Bush of Ghosts”. These were albums that transformed popular music -- beyond recognition. And we still feel the resonations of those two albums' influence over two decades after they were made.

Laswell and Jah Wobble have worked with Herbie Hancock, Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, John Lydon, Style Scott, Can and even Lemmy -- let’s hope they can return to the edgy imagination that defined their earlier works -- and influenced so many others for decades afterwards.

This album however, is the sound of two accomplished veterans staying in their comfort zone, and resting on their laurels. For completists and hardcore fans only.