Hybrid Sound System
Hammerbass / Sounds Around
February 26, 2006

Track list
  1. Sabradub
  2. L'uzure
  3. Sarangui
  4. Inabox
  5. Trashastan
  6. The Test
  7. Nordick
  8. Rupture
  9. Live For Willyman
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 3 Production : 3 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
Sounds Around music, with artists such as Hybrid Sound System (and other label mates Sism X) are clearly setting a path off the narrowly accepted digital roots formula, and at points, it works to excellent effect. Someone should give these men a job doing soundtrack for documentaries or a dark road movie, because it seems that is where this music belongs, with its atmospherics and sometimes wintery soundscapes.

If early Neu, This Heat's "24 Track Loop", Cabaret Voltaire's incendiary "Sluggin For Jesus", Public Image's "Metal Box", and Skidoo's "Seven Songs" appeal, then this should be a release to watch out for. It also evokes similar moods to those created by The Underwolves' ONU Sound remixes and Eno's "Another Green World/Before And After Science."

"Sabradub" begins with what sounds like Iranian or Iraqi stringed instruments and a talking drum. Soon Big Youth's voice is thrown into the darkness, spliced and cut up so as to render it almost unrecognisable. This is not a track for the orthodox purists, but has brave aspirations nonetheless, with its sitar like loops rising and falling like a sheet metal backdrop. "L'uzure" opens with a Lebanese or Syrian vocal melody contrasted with a bass eddy. "Sarangi" opens with a sitar drone, and one of the strangest snare tones you're likely to hear in a while, albeit punctuating the mix only temporarily.

"Test" has a dialogue from a film weaving through it and a lonely flute ("once every 20 years we meet to test the power of our our art" echoes the distorted voice). "Nordick" is Muslim Gauze territory, until a huge d n' b bassline breaks up the ambience.

This is an imaginative release, but it probably won't please the orthodox roots fan -- But then again, it doesn't pretend to have any such aspirations, and its strengths lie in the areas of soundtrack mood, evoking a dreamlike bass ambience. So, if you are looking for something that draws on diverse influence (dub being amongst them) but attempts to create new atmospheres, it would be worthwhile checking out this Sounds Around release.

This album is not without fault -- some of the compositions here do tend towards the stereotypical and clichéd, and there is a tendency towards over use of a hammering digi - steppers beat (surely overdone and over exploited by now, by far too many on the roots scene?).

But a lot of the music showcased here is aggressive and thoughtful music -- For those of you who love late 70's/early 80's UK roots music such as Dennis Bovell and Dub Judah, as well as fusions of late 90's drum and bass and dub, this label Sounds Around music is going to prove well worth seeking out.

On a final note, the production and sound quality is always excellent on these Sounds Around cd's too -- Very heavy bass, bright, searing treble frequencies and crisp snares make for satisfying listening.