Jah Wobble

Shout At The Devil

MOJO – June 2002


Author Alan Warner finds Jah’s latest full of eastern promise.

Fancy metaphors come to easy Wobbles newest, Arabic tinged release, the 18th on his own flourishing 30 Hertz label. We used to grab Soho Dim Sum ’til he skipped an increasingly changed East London to wander the Peak District.

WOB’S recent projects include supergroup Solaris with the worlds greatest avant-bassist, Bill Laswell,and Can’s drumming innovator Jaki Liebzeit, putting the funk into free jazz with sax veteran Evan Parker then touring his gloriously eccentric unit, Deep Space (see the wonderfully titled Largely Live in Manchester and Hartlepool).

A Bedouin dub party on a camel train to Cairo Sure, but what you’ll get on Shout at the Devil isheavy” in the truest sense: spiced with non-conformist dub, divine vocalising, and low end ecstasy.

Collaborating with Temple of Sound and singers Natacha Atlas,S hahin Badar and Nina Miranda produces brain crushing reverse dubs on cuts like Cleopatra King Sizeand memories of chart successes with early 90’s Invaders of the Heart.

Jah’s unique body shifting bass is sliced through with Arabic orchestration recalling Mohamed Abdel Wahab, in ways that seem logical, celebratory and genuinely respectful for the richness around us, without ethno-tourist whiffs. Wobbles been wired into “world” music for decades now, in an unpretentious, non tofu munching way, plucking the circular power and mysteries from any music he connects with, like a previous collaboration with Laotian Molam singers. On Shout at the Devil , such voices of passion , Neil Sparkes’ percussion and the sandblasting grooves work upwards with Dubulah’s delicate guitar. Your heart will be invaded , and it will be conquered.

Jah Wobble talks to Alan Warner.

Nina Miranda sings divinely on Mistral Azul. And Natacha Atlas is in amazing voice, as ever. “They were great. Nat actually sang for me before Transglobal Underground. Neil and Count Dubulah are really quick and professional in the studio, which I love. To much programming drives me nuts-obviously, I like to work fast! The Studio should be like a good kitchen: you got someone on the veg over there, someone on sauces here and the potatoes done bang on time!”

Twenty Four years recording and you can still rustle up countless bass lines spontaneously. I’ve seen you do it live and it’s uncanny. Like that shuffle on Mistralazul. “That’s an odd one, 13 beats to the bar. Don’t know where they all come from. Me and Bill (Laswell) on our Radioaxiom collaboration? I can tell us apart. The rougher-edged one is me!”

Fifteen albums since 1995 but every one has been so refreshingly different and of such high quality.

“There are no rules. The music industry is geared to this one- album- every -18 months caper, and it stifles creativity. Like a painter. You don’t go – Monet – good painter, ate but he painted too much! You’re allowed to paint as much as you want. Perhaps those music industry chaps should be working as accountants in some plastics factory anyway.”

Alan Warner

Big Issue – March 2002

What next for the Wobbly one? The ex-Public Image Limited bassist has been surprising us plenty in recent years, putting the poems of William Blake to music, collaborating with Loan choirs and free-jazz saxophonists, generally entertaining himself and anyone else who happens to be around with admirable, unflagging energy. This outing finds him in global-fusion mode, trademark dub basslines given depth and breadth by a succession of congas, tablas, pan pipes, and a midi crumhorn whatever that might be. There is more than a dash of Trans-Global Underground about the arrangements, not surprising as former members Natacha Atlas and Neil Sparkes are notable presences on the album. But the dominant force is undoubtedly producer Count Dubulah. His trademark teeth-rattling low -end rumbles throughout. The title track stands out, as does opener Hayat, featuring an incredible vocal by Shahin Badar but there’s npt a bad track here, Wobble at his best. ****

Ally Fogg

Q Magazine – February 2002

John Lydon’s old mate continues exotic adventures
Above Bedlam and Take Me To God – truly magical records that merge eastern rhythms with the voices of Sinead O’connor and Dolores O’Riordan – former Public Image Ltd member Jah Wobble’s musical adventures have become increasingly esoteric. More recently, he’s babbled in ambience and the poetry of William Blake, but Shout At The Devil is altogether pacier. This is a jaunt around an Arabic bazaar at midnight, with Wobble leading his heavy bass down avenues festooned with snake charmers and the vocals of Natacha Atlas and Smoke City’s Nina Miranda topping up the exotic quotient. The results are rambling but bewitching. ***

Nick Duerden

Barcode Magazine – February 2002

Jah Wobble, bass guru and founder member of Public Image Limited, continues his prolific output of material on this enchanting collaboration with transcendental muso’s, Temple Of Sound. Shout At The Devil wisely colours its Arabic dub soundtrack with the addition of vocal contributions from the world recognised Natasha Atlas, Nina Miranda and Prodigy’s, Shahin. This rich tapestry of collaborators are at the heart of this tasteful brew of exotic and entrancing music. Unlike Wobble’s other recent collaborations, all of a similar ilk, Shout At The Devil contains a sinister underbelly, whereby the hypnotic melodies wind around the listener like a hissing cobra. As usual, Wobble can be found bass in hand, scoring out the songs which are then given their meat and bones via Count Dubulah’s occasional springy guitar and full-blooded programming. The title track, with Natacha Atlas on vocals takes you into the heart of the tribe like never before, delivering a healthy does of mystical eastern authenticity, while Nina Miranda’s vocal on ‘Mistralazul 2’ is for me a more accessible favourite. Personally, I didn’t find this as enjoyable as Wobbles’ recent ‘Radioaxiom’ release with Bill Laswell and Shout At The Devil occasionally proves to be hard work. However, Wobble fans are yet again unlikely to be left disappointed by another top class, trademark release.

musicOHM – 20th February 2002

You know where you are with the frighteningly prolific Jah Wobble. No Robbie-style big band tributes, angst filled ballads or thrashy guitars for him. No, the endearingly barmy Jah can always be relied upon to produce dub-heavy bass-centric masterpieces that sound like nothing on this earth whilst simultaneously sounding comfortably familiar.

Shout At The Devil, his second record in less than six months, is a continuation of that tradition, and is another triumph for the former Public Image Ltd bassist.

Wobble has had a long tradition of producing outstanding collaborations, and this record is no exception. Although there’s nothing here to touch Visions Of You (performed by Sinead O’Connor), the two tracks with Natacha Atlas come pretty damn close. Fans of Transglobal Underground‘s work and Atlas’ recent solo album Ayeshenti need no telling how special her voice is, but here she sounds better than ever. She fits in beautifully to the title track which combines Arab instrumentation, such as the darabuka, with one of the catchiest keyboard riffs you’ll hear all year. All the while, Atlas’ voice swoops and swirls while the listener finds their hips uncontrollably swaying.

Atlas’ other track, La Citadelle, is more restrained, but no less beautiful. It’s strange, spaced-out guitar, provided by another Transglobal regular, Count Dubulah, fills the background, while Wobble’s bass grows more dominant as the song progresses. It’s all very eerie, slightly strange and quite lovely.

Vocal duties are also shared between Shahin Badar (on the tremendous opener Hayat) and Nina Miranda (on the hypnotic Once Upon A Time In The East). Both do a sterling job, but it is Atlas who stands out.

That said, it’s on the purely instrumental tracks that Wobble really flies. Mountains Of The Moon starts off as a typical Wobble dub track, but as the track expands through six minutes, ever more improvisation comes to the fore. Wobble manages to pull this off without being self-indulgent, which also applies to the following Cleopatra King Size, with it’s tinny guitar and heavy percussion. Maghreb Rockers begins like a Bollywood soundtrack before transforming into a dark rumble in the jungle.

Wobble is refreshingly ego-free throughout the record – his trademark bass never threatens to swamp proceedings, and all the collaborators on the record are given equal writing credits.

All the tracks seem to meld seamlessly into one another, giving the record a fine degree of consistency. It’s the sort of record you can close your eyes and float away to, and never falls into the trap of being bland. Fans of The Orb, and of the aforementioned Transglobal Underground, will lap this up. Challenging, eclectic, and damn talented, Jah rules.

John Murphy

The Wire – February 2002

In a year that has seen him touring his Solaris project, and releasing CDs like Passage To Hades with Evan Parker and RadioAxiom with Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble has been putting himself about recently.  A purple patch or spreading himself too thin perhaps?  Definitely the former.  Wobble’s particular strength, as these projects demonstrate, is a keen ear for picking the right collaborators with whom to juxtapose his signature bottom end disturbance.

For this encounter he has joined forces with Temple Of Sound, aka Neil Sparkes and Dubmaster Count Dubulah, formerly of Transglobal Underground.  Whereas Temple Of Sound’s Black Orchid fused Afro-Caribbean and Latin sensibilities, Shout At The Devil rekindles the spontaneous, ‘catch it as it passes’ credo of Transglobal Underground’s Dream Of 100 Nations. Mixed with Wobble’s seismic throb and the vocalese of Natacha Atlas, Nina Miranda and Shahin Badar, it produces a unique blend of the Nile Delta via Stepney: Nubian trance dub.

Neil Sparkes’s percussion (congas, bongos, Egyptian tabla and shakers) provides insistent, constantly shifting, propulsive patterns to decorate Wobble’s solid and immovable bass carpet.  Dubulah’s guitar work and programming has a lightness of touch, weaving delicate, uncluttered and plaintive melodic lines into the miasma, yet with enough sonic quirkiness to give it a hint of exotica and the kudos of contraband., The beautiful, fluting vocals render the finished patina with a high gloss.  Sequenced with care and attention, tracks meld effortlessly to produce an uninterrupted consistency; yet it leaves the overwhelming feeling of moving through a bazaar of musical delights whose range of influence is completely and intoxicatingly at the whim of serendipity.  Hence ‘Cleopatra King Size’ has a whiff of township guitar and infectious tinny bounce, ‘Shoot At The Devil’ has qawwali overtones, while ‘Mahgreb Rockers’ mixes a reggae chug with the kind of synthesized string treatment that Nitin Sawhney might have produced.  “La Citadelle” is an amazing amalgam of spaced out guitar and Hasidic tinged vocal over a rock backbeat.

Wobble is big enough to never place himself prominently into the mix, and compositional credits are shared equally throughout.  This is music that celebrates its disparate sources and rejoices in their points of contact with a serenely confident result.

John Cratchley

Daily Express – 8th February 2002

As someone happily obsessed with the bass, I could listen to Wobble all day. That sub-sonic boom, that subterranean groove, it just does me. Here, he creates an Arabic dub fusion that is as exotic as a night in the souk. Sometimes you worry that Wobble spreads himself a little thin, but then you just drift into the groove and nothing seems to matter.

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