Agony Shorthand

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The ROOTS RADICS were one of the most-used and most-prolific backing bands during the post-"Rockers" period of dub, roughly starting around 1978 and going up through the early 80s. Their groove-laden, bottom-end elemental heaviness is among the best dub you'll ever hear, and compares exceptionally well to earlier masters THE REVOLUTIONARIES and their early/mid-70s ilk. Teaming up on this fantastic platter is young mixmaster SCIENTIST, who strips an already quiet set of grooves down to their most raw, basic and primer-coated core, leaving echoey guitar, shattering percussion, intensely deep bass and virtually no vocals whatsoever. I always used to wonder how reggae-philes could routinely characterize music so stark & spread out into different rhythmic spectums as "heavy" -- to me, heavy meant and has always meant "loud and ear-shredding". Make no mistake, this is an incredibly heavy set of dubs, as in the rumbling, dense aural weight it packs on. Few songs are instantly distinguishable from each other -- it's more like one long, stoned riff that is overwhelmingly disorienting and thick with musical haze. I have long heard the rap on Scientist that he was just a twentysomething KING TUBBY acolyte who hung around the Channel One studio all day & night waiting for his shot at mixing glory, but on the evidence presented here I have to give the man my eternal respect. Agony Shorthand's growing dub collection has a new one to file in the upper fifth. Highly recommended.