Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
WACKIES : "AFRICAN ROOTS, ACT 2" and "ACT 3" CDs......

I doubt that most visitors to this site are stoked beyond belief when they see Agony Shorthand dipping into yet another dub CD. "Blow me jah" and all that, right? Compounding things is just how redundant my reviews of said music are. I've compiled an easy checklist of things I look for in a dub LP or CD to judge it worthy of my continued time and listening effort. We'll apply this standard to these two late 70s compilation CDs from the NY-based WACKIES stable and see how they hold up:

1. Deep, entrancing, echo-filled reverb? CHECK.
2. Heavy, intense, murky stumbling and crashing? CHECK.
3. A distinct lack of vocals -- almost entirely instrumental, with no awful toasting or paeans to Jah Rastafari? CHECK.
4. Moderately experimental & a little bizarre compared to quotidian reggae? CHECK.
5. Sampling that nearly destroys the original "vocal" version? CHECK.
6. Use of strange effects like phasers and broken analog synths? CHECK.
7. Does it sound a little dangerous, like something that would make a Vermont college kid scream? CHECK.

Wow, these WACKIES comps really hold up. These are the gold standard, folks -- who knew? I'd barely heard of this crew until a few weeks ago, and now I'm lapping their stuff up. I've also heard the "Creation Dub" compilation and a few 45s, and they're OK, but these three "African Roots" discs are where it's at. A bonus is the "70s fanzine"-style packaging, which they felt no need to tart up for a 21st-century release. These guys get it. Highly recommended if you're inclined to dip even a finger into weird-ass 70s dub.