Friday, 9 December 2016

Nocturnal Emissions in Dub (2010)

As I keep saying, I don't really do downloads, but I'd bought a couple by Blank Banshee and then there was Peter Hope so it seemed like I should at least give this a shot what with Nocturnal Emissions being one of the few bands whose work I've been consistently buying since way back even before I'd had sexual intercourse.

I'm something of a fish in only a small quantity of water when it comes to reggae, because yes, that is indeed what we have here, in case you were expecting old Emissions numbers with a bit of echo on them - which actually I was. I don't have much reggae, beyond one Scientist album and er... the Police, I suppose, but I'm familiar with the form having been exposed to a fair quota of it over the years - mostly around people's houses, the occasional club, and that slightly bewildering year when my own father - very much your archetypal truck driving Dire Straits fan - kept his wireless tuned, or possibly even locked, to some local Coventry station playing all that dancehall-digital rasta stuff that was around in the early nineties.

So yes - this is Nocturnal Emissions' reggie album, which could have gone horribly wrong but succeeds regardless because, let's face it, Nigel Ayers is probably the only person to emerge from that whole weirdy music scene who could pull off this sort of thing without looking like a complete wanker. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised considering Binary Tribe and Futurist Antiquarianism, to name just two, upon which he respectively appropriated trancey rave and jungle. The key to Ayers' success seems to be an absolutely genuine engagement with whichever genre he's dipping toes into, combined with a refusal to just churn out some faithful impersonation. So unlike certain clowns I'm not even going to mention, he always brings something new to the table. Also, he effectively lived in Brixton for at least a decade so it's not like we're talking Controlled Bleeding's zydeco album.

Nocturnal Emissions in Dub is woven from musical and non-musical sources, some not a million miles from what you will have heard on Fruiting Body and the like, yet woven into something almost resembling instrumental lovers rock crossed with the digital stuff of which my dad was such a fan. It has a bit of that high-definition television quality on headphones, doubtless having been composed as waveforms copied and pasted across different parts of a screen, but over speakers with the volume up loud, it's serious business - relaxing, atmospheric, a fair bit of arsequake, and characteristically inspired; so to commit what may seem something of a bland statement, it really does sound like a reggae album by Nocturnal Emissions.

My only criticism is that Bodmin Parkway unfortunately reminds me of that DWP television commercial from a couple of years back where Mariella Frostrup cheerily reminds benefits claimants that they could be penalised for claiming the wrong kind of family tax credits over some nice reggae riddums designed to put you at your ease. It's not so much the music as the combination of the music with samples of announcements made over a British Rail tannoy so plummily voiced that they may as well have been samples from a Richard Curtis romantic comedy; but it's one track on a great album that logically shouldn't have existed in the first place, so I'm not complaining.

Any chance of volume two?

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