Essential Dub
July 19, 2007

Track list
  1. Oku Onuora - Dub Out
  2. Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus - Truth & Right
  3. Dub Trio - Drive By Dub
  4. Bush Chemists - East of Jaro
  5. Bad Brains - Leaving Babylon
  6. Twilight Circus - Bassie Dub I
  7. Bill Laswell - Space-Time Paradox
  8. Dr. Israel - Sensimellia
  9. Niney The Observer - Acoustic Dub
  10. Alpha & Omega - Africa/Ethiopia
  11. Terrorists - Anittoo
  12. Badawi - Turbo Auto Drive
  13. Phase Selector Sound - Jackson Park
  14. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant - New Day
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : - Backing : 4 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 2
ROIR have been off the radar for some time now, so it is good to have them re surface with a sampler, which covers all their diverse styles.

And diverse they are -- originally, the vibe from ROIR was pure punk rock vibes, with many of their acts apparently having some link to late 70's hardcore and its related dub wise scenes. Bad Brains were the most high profile of these acts, and they are represented here, not by their garage punk attack style, but by bass heavy dub of "Leaving Babylon", a tune which features their interpretation of an old Tubby's/Duke Reid B line.

ROIR are far from narrow, and anyone who considers them to simply cover NY hardcore punk and punk dub fusions is, basically, wrong -- there is a great deal of diversity here. From JA, there is the heavy heavy massive bass pressure of Oku Onuora -- whilst in jail, Oku developed his poetic insights, which later came to the attention of Jamaican scholar, Professor Mervyn Morris, who helped him get published.

Also from JA is a harsh, raw dub workout from Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, "Truth And Right", replete with pure funk keyboard hooks, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". Niney the Observer also contributes a punk speed dub -- hardcore, with flying splinters of treble splicing across the speed driven bass tones.

Representing inner London's grimy and dark industrial wintry dub styles is Stoke Newington's home grown talent, Dougie Wardrop's Bush Chemists. The vibes are monolithic, inner London -- high rise, and bleak, as only UK artists can produce. Alpha and Omega follow up with another dark inner city supplication. Spirituality amongst the decaying Victorian housing estates of inner London.

From the avant garde side, we have "Space Time Paradox" from Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell, both of whom have worked with everyone from Eno, to Lemmy to Can and beyond, to artists like Pharaoh Sanders and Style Scott. This track takes its inspiration from Baudrillard's "Simulacara" concept. 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.

On the downside, not all of the compositions included on the compilation can carry it off -- some of the artists here sound far too formulaic and some tunes are very conservative, reflecting a trend in European style dub to produce template carbon copies of old school dub, which, arguably, add nothing new at all to the genre.

But at its best -- ROIR have a really powerful cross section of artists on their label, with some compelling vibes. This album is an excellent introduction to their diversity, and features some very heavy and inspired music in places.

An indispensable purchase then, for lovers of dubwise, original JA style, strictly late 70's punk, hardcore dub and those dub artists who incline towards the Can style avant garde.