While the music may not be to everyone’s tastes, the messages need be soaked up by...
Hattie Collins 2007
With influences from locales as disparate as Jamaica and India, aural activists Asian Dub Foundation, have ensured their lyrics aren’t the only thing worth listening too. These self-described ‘MIDI warriors’ weave a rich tapestry of sounds infused with everything from dhol, drum machines and strings to indo-dub, Bengali folk, jumped-up punk, UK jungle and roughneck ragga.
While celebrated at festivals and revered in France, it wasn’t until 1999's Mercury Prize-nominated '‘Rafi’s Revenge'’ that the then 6-piece saw their status elevated from underground urbanistas to an in-everybody’s-face force to be reckoned with. As well as offering an alternate sound to a UK market saturated by boys with guitars, ADF exploded Asian stereotypes with their radically political and powerfully poetical compositions. Even after lead vocalist Deeder ‘Master D’ Zaman left in 2001, newcomers Aktarvator and Spex continued to sing from the same song-sheet; more than ‘just’ Asian-activists, ADF represent the globally disaffected that stridently seek change.
This new compilation of the groups finest works is long overdue then; from the strident ‘’Warrior’’, the sitar-soaked ‘’Buzzin’’ and 2005’s incendiary ‘’Oil’’, their melody-led messages deliver a damning take on the arrogance and injustices of today’s world leaders. Deeder’s furiously fast rhymes sound particularly potent over the beautifully disordered score of ‘’Real Great Britain’’, as a mish-mash of musicality accompanies his disgust at the state of the system.
For those that own all or most ADF albums, there are new tracks, a number of remixes and some live sessions, a highlight of which is a collaboration with their spiritual and social ally, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, on the consciously-charged “Son Of A Bush.”
Spread over two CD’s, Time Freeze may be a little rambling at times, however it’s absolutely clear that Asian Dub Foundation’s philosophies, new and old, are perhaps now more relevant than ever. While the music may not be to everyone’s tastes, the messages need be soaked up by all.