A great idea, this – take an army of reggae and dancehall stars, pit them against some of the hottest names in the electro/dance arena and stand back to admire the results. Rather than attempting a “virtual collaboration”, where the artists make their contributions on opposite sides of the world, Wall Of Sound got them all together in the Geejam studio, deep in Jamaica’s Blue Mountain range.
One look at the fantastic, psychedelic artwork gives you an idea of things to come – and you could hardly be off to a sunnier start, as Patra and Danny English meet Jon Carter for some ripe West Indian flavours. There’s a bit of history here, with Carter reworking Petra’s Worka Man in his Monkey Mafia days, and he provides the ideal backing here.
The subtle electronica of Jacques Lu Cont is up next, General Degree happy to “do what I wanna, shake what I wanna”. Lu Cont appears later, with the General and toaster Ce’cile.
The sheer range of artists attracted to this project is mightily impressive, and manifests itself in the music. Roni Size and Spragga Benz combine for some gritty drum and bass in Knock Knock, while at the other end of the spectrum are Howie B and Horace Andy, the dreamy Fly High containing some subtle psychedelia on top, if that doesn’t sound too much of a contradiction!
Contradictions and clashes are what this album’s all about though, and it’s evident once again in Kid 606 and Word 21‘s numerical clash This Anuh Rumpin’. West London Deep add one of the party anthems here, Rude No 1 featuring Big Youth in a poignant vocal against hooliganism. And I haven’t even mentioned Justin Robertson‘s excellent contribution to Save Me, and Mark Rae and Rhys Adams‘ stomp to accompany the fine vocal from Determine.
Wall Of Sound deserve a huge pat on the back for this enterprise, a genuinely original experiment that makes for a fresh and upbeat album. It would have been good to have a visual of some of the sessions, which I’m sure were illuminating for all the artists involved. The colourful artwork only adds to the appeal – a CD to supply the soundtrack to your own carnival.