Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This is the one that a contributor to "Lost In The Grooves" said was the dub LP to end all dub LPs and certainly the one SCIENTIST record that I needed to get ahold of. So I bit. I wouldn't go that far -- I don't even think it ranks with "Scientist Meets The Roots Radics", which I reviewed two months ago, for bleary-eyed, slump-in-your-fat-chair-with-your-fat-pants-on headphone dub. But it still rules. The more I piece together the more it becomes clear that young SCIENTIST had quite a hot hand in his Kingston studio for about 3-4 years around 1980-84. That's when I used to see his platters in the bins of various record stores and got a good chortle at the wild hand-drawn and -painted covers; his super-heavy, ultra-low bass dubs were fixtures on San Francisco-area radio programs like "Midnight Dread" and the Spliff Skankin' show (hey, I didn't pick his dumb name). But at the time I thought he was the albino guy. In any event, "Scientist Rids The World..." has a "spooky" theme and a handful of monster sounds, but for the most part keeps it uncluttered from goofiness and instead focuses on manipulated, unwound and respindled reggae grooves. They are mostly shorn of anything "pop"-like and are naked with deep bass, echoed drums and a variety of trebly horns, guitars and what sounds like phasers looped in from twenty planets away. Perhaps I don't cotton to how much crooning vocal Mr. Scientist left in this time, but the backing band are the ROOTS RADICS and the "riddim", shall we say, is rock-solid. Another deep notch on the young man's mixing desk for sure, just not the one I'd start with.