Jah Wobble


fRoots Magazine – August/September 2004

That earth-shattering bass sound can only mean one thing – This must be a Jah Wobble production! He’s joined here by Uzbek pop star Yulduz and reggae veteran Ernest Ranglin. An unlikely combination that works better than expected. Definitely one of Wobble’s better recent efforts.

The Guardian – 13th August 2004

Yulduz’s Bilmadim (30 Hertz, £13.99) is an album of songs by Yulduz Usmanova and Jah Wobble. It has a pop feel, featuring the deep, repetitive bass that has become Wobble’s principal trademark. We also get spunky rhythm guitar courtesy of jazz-reggae veteran Ernest Ranglin. Usmanova, originally from Usbekistan, yodels appealingly and the album noodles along nicely with a trancey, dubby atmosphere.

Connoisseurs of the novelty immigration songs (cf Goodness Gracious Me, or Walter Becker’s Hat Too Flat) will be anxious to add Yulduz’s Kiss Me to their collections: “Kiss me, kiss me, squeeze me tight/I don’t speak English but I know my rights.” There are two bonus remixes (by Bill Laswell and Philippe Verge) of this convincingly poptastic song, which also features a sparky accordion part by Clive Bell. Though Wobble’s unfeasibly low bass is prominent throughout, this is definitely a pop album, with tunes that wouldn’t be out of place at the Eurovision Song Contest. Not the British entry, I hasten to add.

The Daily Telegraph – 10th July 2004

The ethereal-ambient diva is now a familiar figure on the world music scene – her airy traditional stylings framed by lush, hi-tech production. Uzbek pop queen Sevara Nazarkham, who made a splash here last year, is a prime example. Now her longer established, multi-million-selling rival Yulduz Usmanova is having a stab at world music stardom in the unlikely company of East End bass maverick Jah Wobble.

While Nazarkhan’s debut on Real World was a sumptuous, no-expense-spared affair, Wobble’s approach to the world diva phenomenon is more rough- hewn and DIY – with his super-heavy bass and Ernest Ranglin’s ringing reggae guitar well to the fore.

Much of Usmanova’s previous work has been marred by bland Euro-pop, arrangements, but Wobble’s dub-jazz grooves draw a wonderful versatility from her voice – a wavering Indian-sounding girlishness shading into something more powerful, throaty and soulful.
The oddest track, the jaunty Kiss Me, sees her taking the role of an asylum-seeker singing in an English that she patently doesn’t understand. It’s at once cringe-making and wittily subversive.

Mark Hudson

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