Asian Dub Foundation : London Hackney Ocean

The issues Asian Dub Foundation raised, and continue to raise, are still relevant, and have added groove power...

What price, idealism? Most people know that even the most principled soul can be turned into a jaded, cynical wreck by the music industry. So, to see [a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a] regroup after the departure of its main MC, and almost two years of inactivity leads to speculation. Are their revolutionary slogans and socialistic polemics intact? Have they become echoes of their former selves?

A concept that grew out of community spirit is hard to fully break apart; the issues [a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a] raised, and continue to raise, remain relevant; and the introduction of MCs Spex, Aktarvata, and Cezvee creates even more room for a shouty and bouncy affair.

If anything, [a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a] have got more adept at groove power, with the hybrid reggae rhythms, hip-hop beats and guitar crunch also finding space for some Eastern modalities on the melody front. New songs like ‘Rise To The Challenge’ address the state of the world, post-September 11. ‘Fortress Europe’, with its visions of a 21st Century Exodus, insists refugees and asylum seekers have a right to be here. And the woozy harmonics of ‘La Haine’ brilliantly evoke the Paris-set film of the same name, dealing with life from the point of view of suburban housing-project dwellers.

Familiar favourites like ‘Naxalite’ and ‘Free Satpal Ram’ also get a good dusting-down. And it’s to [a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a]’s credit that they’ve retained the core of what they’re about, whilst increasing percussion levels on the sampler and roping in a wandering drummer. Even if fashion-conscious people with attention-span deficits dismiss ’em haughtily, it’s safe to say [a]Asian Dub Foundation[/a] ain’t going nowhere in a hurry.

Dele Fadele