Jah Wobble

Beach Fervour Spare

By Carlo Wolff (www.clevescene.com)

Radioaxiom is a smooth, dub-based release by bassist Jah Wobble and bassist/producer/ remixer/atmosphericist Bill Laswell. Beach Fervour Square, an import, is one of several discs in an ambitious, progressive series produced by Wobble, an old friend of Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten. It features a gang of experimentalists including drummer Mark Sanders, ambient composer Paul Schultze, and windmaster Clive Bell, on everything from melodica to goathorn. Deeply influenced by Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way, the Wobble/Laswell is the leaner album and, unlike Beach Fervour Square, features vocals. In addition to such musicians as guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, organist Amina Claudine Myers, and trumpeters Graham Haynes and Nils Peter Molvaar, it showcases remarkable Ethiopian vocalist Gigi, enhanced by the even more obscure singer Tigist Shibabaw, on the tracks “Alsema Dub” and “Alam Dub.” (Those who crave more Gigi should search out Gigi, a solo disc produced by Laswell.) Radioaxiom vamps on trance and pulse in seven tracks of seamless segue, liquid beat, and ambiance as inviting as a poolside drink.

Beach Fervour Square blends the underwater reggae atmospherics of Lee Scratch Perry with the hothouse art rock of ’70s Pink Floyd. More cumulative than Radioaxiom, it also has more dimension, if less form. “As Night Falls,” a long mini-suite at the center of the album, nails Wobble’s aim. As Bell puts it in his liner notes: “Wobble and Deep Space seek the classic mystical vision: achieving a higher state via discipline, inspiration, and subordination of the individual to the group purpose.” Laswell may be the loss leader here — he’s the trophy name, what with remixing Davis, Cuban street songs, and Carlos Santana — but Wobble’s sensibility dominates. Wobble, too, has put in eclectic time, with Public Image Ltd. and his own Invaders of the Heart. Both albums suggest that the man born John Wardle is at home no matter who’s in his musical family.

The Daily Telegraph – 20th May 2000

Beach Fervour Spare offering features Wobble’s new touring outfit, Deep Space, which explores free improvisation with flautist Clive Bell and drummer Mark Sanders. Mutating tribal drum patterns power the constantly shifting soundscapes, while the bass prowls the nether regions.

The highlight, though, is a 20-minute track that is a classic piece of must-have Wobble. As Night Falls unveils a twisted, heavy rock riff that is simply irresistible, while all the musical components are swapped around between bass, flute, and Chris Cookson’s acoustic guitar and electric bottle-neck.

Richard Wolfson

Motion – April 2000

‘For a mystical music,’ says Clive Bell in the sleeve notes to this, the second outing of Jah Wobble’s Deep Space, ‘this album may seem a bit robust, a bit visceral maybe.” Well, yeah. The group’s eponymous debut, released, like its successor, on Wobble’s own 30 Hertz label, brought together several sessions with sundry line-ups (fellow bassist Bill Laswell and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit being the real heavyweights.) On Beach Fervour Spare, things have pretty much settled down to the current Deep Space touring group: drummer Mark Saunders, Clive Bell and Jean-Pierre Rasle on an improbable range of woodwinds, horns and pipes and Wobble himself laying down his trademark hard-grooving basslines. Joining them for a bunch of sessions recorded in 1999 between live dates were: Paul Sch├╝tze, hammond organ improviser Alex Maguire and guitarist Chris Cookson (now a permanent addition to the group, I gather.) Engineer Mark Lusardi should also be credited as a musician here, for his dub production is as much part of the music as the playing. Anyhow, Bell is right, no matter how hard this stuff is, it’s mystical stuff: deep trance music, with giant swirls of dubbed-out wind parts flying around a riffing core as hard as concrete and tight as a gnat’s arse. It’s all improve; nothing is prepared before studio sessions, the players instead settling into spontaneous grooves and atmospheres. The lack of preparation helps the music avoid the pitfalls of overly fussy orchestration that all-too-frequently beset music with similar Fourth World inclinations. There is no place in Deep Space for frills. Special mention should go to the rhythm section. A couple of the sessions here apparently mark the first times Wobble and Saunders had got together. If that’s the case, it makes their playing even more remarkable. For theirs is a truly symbiotic pairing, supplying some of the most inspired rhythm work, well, since Can. Deep indeed.

Simon Hopkins

The Wire – April 2000

If Wobble’s current release rate is anything to go by, he is aiming to become a Cockney doppelganger of fellow bass pulsar and World Music gypsy Bill Laswell. Still, shaking off the dodgy eclecticism that characterised many of his releases prior to last year’s return to form with Deep Space, Wobble has so far managed to avoid Laswell’s globetrotting erraticism.

Beach Fervour Spare, Wobble’s second outing with Deep Space, show that dividends focusing on the bassics can still reap. Out go the multi-ethnic revolving door guest appearances; in come the virtues of a small group, empathetically bonded together by a year of touring. Even in an age of cyberspace link-ups and virtual collaboration, it would seem that nothing can beat sharing a Transit van in instilling the mystical oneness that Wobble so craves. Jaki Liebezeit’s rhythm mathematics may have been replaced by the more pedestrian algebra of Mark Sanders, but otherwise the method remains the same – Wobble’s manically simple basslines drive forward with a supple repetition, while Clive Bell and Jean-Pierre Rasle add non-gratuitous hints of medieval peasant tonality with an array of ethnic and ancient woodwind. Paul Schutze adds ‘atmosphere’ on a couple of tracks, Chris Cookson some strung out guitar elsewhere, and the mixing desk of Mark Angelo Lusardi precision-welds it all together.

However, the results, solidly pleasurable as they are pale next to the inspired collaboration with the Paris-based Laotian group Molam Lao, showcased on the Molam Dub disc. The quartet specialises in molam, an ancient ribald-poetic entertainment where male and female singers improvise lyrics to the pulsating blown and sucked rhythms of the khene moth organ, and more recently, keyboards, guitars and drums. Molam Lao are of a more traditional stripe, and to the omnipresent churn of the khene they add kachapi guitar and a variety of chiming percussion. Wobble and his Deep Space bandmates bring in the low end (reggae drum loops and submarine bass) and some tasteful accompaniment. For once, this is a Fourth World collaboration which actually matches like with like. Instead of a religious chant crudely laid against the crassest of secular drum machines, the rhythm base and party vibe of the Laotian music dovetail perfectly with the reggae setting. Connections on both sides are found – the toasting quality of the joyous Laotian vocals, the melodica – like tone of the khene, the untempered scales of Rasle’s bagpipes and Bell’s shinobue flute. It’s an exhilarating mix, and one that proves that cross-cultural meetings of minds needn’t be laboured with mystical baggage. The will to party is often all that is necessary.

Alan Cummings

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