I’ve been to my fair share of stellar gigs in my time but the first and perhaps only occasion I’ve been totally blown away by a live band, it was watching Asian Dub Foundation tear Birmingham’s Irish Centre a new arsehole nearly two decades ago with their uniquely politicised brand of bhangra, fused with the white heat of punk, dub, electronica and hip-hop.
At the turn of the millennia, Master D, Chandrasonic, Sun-J, Pandit-G and Dr Das flirted with the big time on the back of a considerable underground following, a bunch of high profile live support slots, not to mention a trio of rather fine albums, two of which grazed the top 20, with Rafi’s Revenge garnering a Mercury nomination. Unfortunately, once frontman Deeder Zaman (Master D) decided to swap the band for full-time activism in 2001, the upward trajectory of ADF was halted. Nevertheless, the remaining members regrouped and recruited, including current members, vocalists Ghetto Priest and Aktarv8a plus Nathan Lee on flute/beatbox, whilst continuing to put out records every two or three years, bringing us to ‘More Signal More Noise’, album number nine.
Lead single ‘Zig Zag Nation’ proves once and for all that ADF have lost none of their raw belligerent edge during the intervening years as a looped flute sample from the new band member introduces a topical snapshot of 21st Century Britain. ‘The Signal and The Noise’ skilfully mixes Bollywood with Ragga, interspersed with Chandrasonic’s trademark guitar pyrotechnics with a thrillingly speeded up middle eight. ‘Radio Bubblegum’ is a holiday anthem tirade against the modern music media, as you’re told ‘Don’t touch your dial, we’ve got bullshit by the pile’…unerringly accurate.
‘Blade Ragga’ provides the album’s first of a quartet of instrumentals but don’t let that put you off as your feet will certainly tap away to the silky drum and bass and frenetic flute, the woodwind really giving the giving the ADF sound another dimension, soothing in places, sinister in others. ‘Semira’, up next is an extended dub jam but no less listenable. ‘Stand Up’ comes groove-laden and we’re also treated to the first proper dose of flutebox as we then have to fasten our seatbelts for ‘Flyover 2015’ a reprise of the track first appearing on 2005 album ‘Tank’. ‘Get Lost Bashar’ provides a lament to a Syrian political dissident whereas penultimate track ‘Fall of the House of Cards’ transports us to a dystopian world run by of warring playing cards, also enlisting the musical services of Calcutta’s Gandu Circus, and set to lightning fast drum and bass. ‘Dubblegum Flute Flavour’ reprises ‘Bubblegum’ leaving the listener thinking there may be a little more recycling going on than perhaps is necessary on this otherwise decent effort. Other than that, it’s like welcoming back an old friend.
Words - MikePrice
Released on ADF Communications/ Believe Recordings, July 10th 2015
Asian Dub Foundation official