Cargo a converted factory in Vienna, they're rebranding the music of the past in new, exciting shapes...

The music industry is, as so many frustrated artists bemoan, a production line, where art is inevitably perverted by the greed of the capitalist. But [a]Sofa Surfers[/a] know there’s sanctuary to be found. Cocooned away in their Kunstwerk studio-commune deep in Vienna’s crumbling industrial sector, this Austrian avant-dub project made their second album, ‘Cargo’, far from the corrupting force of the pop mainstream.

These four young men shut their eyes, light up a joint, turn up the bass – and in a vivid dream they’re back at the dawn of the ’70s, jamming with [a]Can[/a] in Berlin’s Inner Space rehearsal rooms, or cutting dub tracks with King Tubby in a ramshackle Jamaican studio. In pursuit of such seminal musical lucidity, ‘Cargo’ eschews the 48-track studio, the banks of futuristic synths and robotic drum-fills, and strips itself down to the barest instrumentation, harking back to the creaking mixing desk and wheezing speakers of decades past.

We’re talking roots reggae. We’re talking jazz fusion. And faced with all this experimental pretension, you’re probably hoping ‘Is there a Ferry Corsten remix?’ But the [a]Sofa Surfers[/a]’ time-warpery lends ‘Cargo’ an archaic power, elevating it far beyond the over-cerebral bustle of dub deconstructionist Pole. Two vocal collaborations provide ‘Cargo’‘s twin peaks: stern beatnik poet Victor Oshioke pondering the philosophy of love on ‘If It Were Not For You’; and the loose-limbed, skittery improv-dub of ‘Beans And Rice’, legitimised proper by the reggae toasting of deejay Singing Bird.

But even when arcing off on their own tangent, the [a]Sofa Surfers[/a] require no such justification; the muscular shamanic groove of ‘Latal In Tampere’ loses itself in five hypnotic minutes of distant voices and squealing strings, the very best bad trip you’ve ever had.

[a]Sofa Surfers[/a] are musical archaeologists. But in a converted factory in Vienna, they’re rebranding the music of the past in new, exciting shapes.