I have to thank Dreadzone for a hugely inspiring album that transcendced genres and even saw them appear on Britain’s decades-old pop chart show, Top of the The Pops.
Second Light was a groundbreaking fusion of electronic and dub that dabbled in the dance scene that had crossed over into rock and indie. An offshoot of Big Audio Dynamite (Greg Roberts, Leo Williams and Dan Donovan with non-BADdie Tim Bran) they recorded four more albums thereafter, and now comes the seventh, Escapades on Dubwiser records.
I guess we should start with two fish hooks that will inevitably surface commonly in reviews, and both are contained within the same song. Too Late features a guest appearance by Mick Jones, ex of BAD, although he isn’t on lead vocals and the song borrows the hook from the brilliant post-punk hit single Is Vic There? by Department S. They’re not a band I would have imagined being linked to Dreadzone, but the melding works, with the song rockier than most of the other material.
Places is a delightful inclusion, with a summer feel and inspiring lyrics; portions of dub-heavy Next Generation hark back to Second Light; I Love You Goodbye adapts samples and a ringing telephone quite cleverly; Rise Up pounds away mercilessly, and Fire In The Dark features a female Arabic voice sequenced by dance rhythms and has an insanely driving chant/chorus. This is the closest Dreadzone will get to Bristol.
It is not an album without its faults. Some tracks are laboured, and the two featuring Lena Cullen are insipid, reflecting her flat vocals.
I’ve given this a handful of listens, and more layers are unravelled with each play, although Music of the Spheres, one of those tracks featuring Cullen, is unlikely to escape the stop button.