Adrian Sherwood's pioneering work with bands like Tackhead was a major influence in the rise of the industrial and Bristol trip-hop sounds of the '90s. His early use of sampling and ambient noise with projects such as Dub Syndicate and African Head Charge established the basis for the dubby dance fusions of artists like Kruder & Dorfmeister, Thievery Corporation, and Meat Beat Manifesto. After nearly a decade of financial and personal problems, the 44-year-old producer kicks off a new stage in his career with Never Trust a Hippy, his first solo effort and most consistent album in years. Fusing uptempo Jamaican dub, dancehall, and world rhythms with his trademark flair for heavy bass and hallucinogenic effects, Sherwood has recalibrated his far-out sounds for the dance music audience.
Sherwood's mastery of dub's expansive style gives him the room to play with a dizzying array of elements. Anchored by the rolling rhythms of Jamaican session wizards Sly and Robbie, NTAH samples classic sufi music from Rizwan Muazim Qwallli, the understated blues guitar of Skip McDonald, jazz trumpet melodies from Harry Beckett, and original vocals from Indian singer Hari Haran. The results may be too densely textured to be a pure club record, but every track follows a distinctive, spaced-out flow. In some respects, Sherwood is contending with a music world that has finally caught up with him; the fearless genre-blending that once set him so far ahead of the pack is no longer revolutionary. But one listen to this record's highly nuanced mosaic of ghostly wails, deep echoes, spacey guitar riffs, and stuttering jump-up-style beats makes it clear that Sherwood can still play the game better than anyone. Hippies beware.
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