For more than three decades, Adrian Sherwood has been one of the world’s finest and most consistently groundbreaking producers, artists and remixers. In the ensuing journey, he has wrought his deep, dark magic upon such internationally acclaimed artists as Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Blur, Primal Scream and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, as well as coining countless mind-melting new sounds with legendary acts such as Tackhead and Mark Stewart, whose influence is ongoing and, to this day, omnipresent.
Sherwood has always preferred to operate in the shadows, where his creative integrity is least threatened by the all-corrupting ludicrousness of the pop mainstream. Largely left to his own devices, he has built up a colossal body of work, whose staggering diversity – after launching off from reggae and dub, he duly innovated with electronic experimentation, industrial grind, various world music’s, and far more – somehow never eclipsed his own identity, nor diluted his unique bass-anchored sound.
With a musical life that reads like a trans-Atlantic road map of recent music history’s important moments - from underage excursions into West London’s seminal reggae and soul parties to the frontlines of England’s punk movement and the creation of one of post-punk’s defining collectives with his legendary On-U Sound labels, producing the New York upstarts who helped create hip-hop and toiling with some of the biggest, most credible names in the pop world of the 1990s. All of this done with the spirit and grit of punk and the mystic genius of Jamaica’s dub tradition, but through the eyes and ears of a restless originator.
While much of the chat surrounding Sherwood’s legend has tended towards the scope and deftness-of-touch of his innovative production and remixing work, his output as a solo artist has always woven strands of haunted polyrhythms, helter-skelter pop sensibilities and post-rave haze into some of the most unique “dub” music ever recorded. Now comes Survival & Resistance, a palpable evolution of the sounds introduced on these preceding albums, yet feeling like the perfect addition to a triptych. Dark atmospherics, creeping electronics and an almost orchestral approach to arrangement are married to brilliant melodic sense and analog technique. An exciting and long-overdue transmission of the On-U Sound.
Opening with the circuit-bent reggae balladry of “Balance” the sense of agitation and unease is palpable, but by the time you’ve been drawn into the paranoid transmission of “U.R. Sound” and the plaintive optimism of “Effective” a much more complex picture comes into focus. Drawing on the upheaval of the all-too-recent London riots and staring down the current international economic crisis, the album is an earnest critique of current injustices, and like all great dub music is also potently enjoyable.
The cornerstones of Sherwood’s singular production style are as strong as ever here – experimental techniques that pit noise against melody, dub as female resistance song and foregrounding the missing links between dub, blues roots and Brazilian Bossa. Equally as formidable is the post-punk lineage of the On-U aesthetic and the mythic mixing approach he has evolved over the years. A swirling maelstrom of skull-shaking, heavy electronic tones and masterful deployment of breathing space and alien echo, Survival & Resistance is the sound of avant-garde dub music in 2012.
Track List & Soundclips:
02. Trapped Here
04. Starship Bahia
06. We Flick The Switch
07. Bossa 2
08. Two Semitones And a Raver
09. Last Queen Of England