Jah Wobble

Five Beat

The Wire – September 2003

Bassist Jah Wobble started his 30 Hertz label in 1997 out of a desire to escape major label tyranny. Their constant demand for more of the same is far too restrictive for an artist as diverse and prolific as Wobble. The dividends have been handsome, allowing him to release Celtic, orchestral and spoken word albums, not to mention Molam Lao’s Thai/Laotian reggae.

Deep Space rearrange a group of collaborators familiar from previous 30 Hertz releases into a new type of unit, one described in Wobble’s sleeve notes as an “Avant Garde Googie Band Fully Realized”. The music fully justifies the claim. Five Beat’s six recordings fuse the mind of the avant garde with the heart of a kick-ass group. The title track, “Five Beat (Parts I & II)” is delivered in two giant slabs totalling 30 minutes of muscled avant garde agility that dance mockingly around a lolloping time signature. “Just Me & Phil” is a subtle duo of ever more muted drums and bass, both played by Wobble, and Philip Jeck’s turntables. As it progresses, the drums fade and the bass becomes more organic, creating a folk motorik beat beneath the decks’ undulating sound washes.

Similarly successful are “Jeck, Drums, 2 Basses”, with Mark Sanders’s drumming leaving Wobble free to concentrate on weaving his doubled bass parts. “6 Beat” (like “Five Beat -Part II”) is a 21 minute group work with an unusual wind section comprising Harry Beckett’s trumpet and the pipes of Clive Bell and Jean-Pierre Rasle, and Chris Cookson’s guitar. Cookson, Bell and Rasle provide a stately chordal build beneath Beckett’s thrilling trumpet explorations. The album’s sole vocal track comes last, when Cat Von-Trapp joins Sanders and Wobble. Her dub-scat vocalising is as able an accompaniment as any of the instruments used elsewhere. Further proof of the joyous rightness of the premise behind Wobble’s Deep Space unit.

Nick Southgate

Uncut – September 2003

PiL bassist’s latest genetic experiments on music from planet dub Ho-hum. New album by Wobble. Ambient. World Music. Dub. Yawn? Well, no. Except that like most of Britrock’s lost souls whose genius is now a perennial cottage industry (cf Bill Nelson), Wobble never fails to stimulate or excite even when you think, as here, he might justĀ  be going through the motions. Listening to Wobble is like hearing fragments of the national anthems of ideal music-based states filtering and warping back through space to us. The lyrically grumbling simmer of “Just Me And Phil” defies you to know what instrument Wobble is playing, or what plane he’s on. A post-punk Olias of Sunhillow, anyone?

Paul Stump

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