Various Artists - Trevor Jackson Presents: Science Fiction Dancehall Classics - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - Trevor Jackson Presents: Science Fiction Dancehall Classics

by Rob Taylor Rating:9 Release Date:2015-10-02

Following this year’s Sherwood at The Controls compilation, this is Trevor Jackson’s own concoction of On-U label sounds, mostly unreleased, and also notably at the spikier and more experimental end of Sherwood’s imprint.

What a pleasure it is to hear illustrious cross-genre artists such as Neneh Cherry, who at this time was relatively unknown, before her ‘Buffalo Stance’ hip-hopper days, and Shara Nelson, later to apply her Aretha-style voice to magnificent effect with Massive Attack, most abundantly on ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. Neneh Cherry, the step-child of avant-gardist trumpeter Don Cherry, later herself demonstrated an aptitude for progressive jazz-fusion with Swedish/Norwegian group The Thing and other personal projects.

Not surprising that both shared in common with other artists in On-U's fervent musical community, an interest in celebrating diversity. The tenebrous sounds on Science Fiction Dancehall Classics have their origin in heavy dub, the caustic angularism of punk, hip-hop, experimental electronica, and the vaguely euphoric haze of industrial disco. Listen to the cuts here from Fat Comet and Atmosfear for funky examples of the latter. Listen to Tackhead’s ‘Now What’ for an example of how the low hum of industry can meet eurodisco dance floor stomper. The looping vocal is seemingly played on a secondary device such as a cassette recorder. 

Scrubbing hip meets trip-hop number ‘The Wrong Name and The Wrong Number’ shows Pop Group’s Mark Stewart with cohort, DJ Battle in what sounds like a science fiction avant garde face-off that you can dance to, for the most part. Trevor Jackson’s own Playgroup heads east for a bit of electro-glitch, German style. The label collective, African Head Charge contributes some scintillating tribal dance, and Suns of Arqa’s carbonated mix ‘Asian Rebel’ melds tabla with dubby bass and flighty wind ensemble for a dizzy world beat frolic. 

Chicken Granny’s ‘Quit the Body’ sounds like a demented rant dance played by drunk jazz musicians hanging out with punks masquerading as chanting monks. Yes, it’s that good.   

Although much of the music on Science Fiction Dancehall Classics comes from the early 1980s, beyond the occasional use of drum machines, you would be surprised at how little of this collection really sounds like the 1980s. As a friend of mine (who’s a drummer) also noted, it was the displaced drummers often programming the machines at that time anyway.

What distinguishes Science Fiction Dancehall Classics whirlwind of disparate sounds is both the quality of the curating, and the source material. I would venture also that Science Fiction Dancehall Classics is more relevant now than it ever was in 1985. 

Released on On-U Sound on 2 October 2015.

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