Becoming a Cliché is an exuberant mixture from a true sonic pioneer.
Tom Woolfenden 2007
UK dub legend Adrian Sherwood returns with his second solo album Becoming a Cliché. A mixture of chanting monks, triumphant horns and heavy, heavy bass, this is a feast for the ears. Apt then that Sherwood often produces his records while cooking, shouting out instructions to his engineer in the next-door studio.
Adrian Sherwood has been a lynchpin of UK reggae for nearly thirty years. After an adolescence spent selling seven-inch pre-releases out of a van, he founded the famed On-U Sound label in 1979. But far from being a dub purist, Sherwood allied himself with post-punk stars like Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, P.I.L. and The Slits. He went on to become one of the most in-demand producers of the 1980s, working with artists as varied as Simply Red, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Einstürzende Neubauten.
The same wild eclecticism can be heard throughout Becoming a Cliché. This is an album where Gregorian chants meet melodica solos, where martial horns meet jungle and where cinema soundtrack samples collide with analogue distortion. It's a much more vocal record than his debut solo effort, 2003's Never Trust a Hippy. A veritable galaxy of stars lend their voices, including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Dennis Bovell, Little Roy and Mark Stewart. Even Sherwood's daughters Denise and Emily get a look-in on enchanting opening number "Animal Magic".
Standout song "J’ai Changé" encapsulates the best of this album. Topped off by a sultry vocal from French-Tunisian singer Samia Farah, this stomping lovers rock track is accompanied by bags of bright horns, joyful synth stabs and tight snares. Becoming a Cliché is an exuberant mixture from a true sonic pioneer, one that serves as a thrilling reminder of the possibilities of reggae in the 21st century.