Dub practitioners from King Tubby onward have generally evolved more from listening to records and tinkering with toys than from straight musicianship or songwriting. But to his credit, Jamaica's Style Scott uses Dub Syndicate in a way that allows dub's rootsy bottom end to flourish; the band provides a strong alternative to the programmed metal beats and electronics of ex-Tackhead mixologist and former Dub Syndicate boss Adrian Sherwood. Scott is still immersed in Sherwood's studio-as-instrument aesthetic, but never to the extent that the manipulations interfere with the monumental grooves. Scott subtracts and distorts information rather than piling it on, creating a spooky world in which only the spectral and skeletal carry weight. For example, "Not A Word"—on which a deep bassline slinks beneath a slowly uncoiling violin—is positively chilling. Most of Fear Of A Green Planet's 10 tracks sound like vaporized versions of some unheard source material, gutted until just the frame remains. Vocalists (including Scott, Little David, and Big Youth) are nearly superfluous, while the songs' lyrics are generally limited to chants of "Jah Rastafari!" and enthusiastic slogans praising dub and its mirror-companion, bud. But the album's closer, "Wake Up," disperses the ganja cloud and unfolds a passionate paean to the homeland, touching upon the spiritual essence of reggae's finest moments. Instead of simply crafting hip chill-out sounds, Fear Of A Green Planet gives dub a personality.

Advertisement