Asian Dub Foundation to perform original live score to George Lucas’s 1971 dystopian directorial debut at The Barbican Centre London on 19th June. Previously commissioned by and premiered at last year’s Celebrate Brooklyn event, this is the UK premiere.
Famed for their electrifying fusion of punk rock, electronic beats, reggae, bhangra, hip-hop and politics, one-time Mercury nominees & NME Award winners return with a freshly reinvigorated & retooled line-up to release their career defining best with Adrian Sherwood back at the controls.
‘More Signal More Noise’ showcases a band shot-through with a new found sense of positive energy, militancy and purpose. Recorded in just three days straight to tape by a thoroughly tour drilled band, and mixed in another three, its urgency and pure joyousness shine through on the finished record.
The album kicks off with Zig Zag Nation – a punky-dub-attack-dog of a tune that talks about the fragmentation of the UK’s traditional political/ racial/ tribal lines and warns against those who would seek to exploit them for their own gains. Radio Bubblegum further sets out the stall as the formidable Ghetto Priest counters our anodyne radiowaves with a sunsplash anthem. “It’s sort-of-Afrobeat, sort-of-noise, with loads of mad flute,” smiles guitarist and founding member, Steve Chandra Savale. “It’s about cultural programming, about marketing music based on demographics and people’s spending habits – and that’s something that doesn’t work for us.”
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Elsewhere Blade Ragga channels Miles Davis’ ‘Dark Magus’ and Can and reaches a Primal Scream circa ‘Xtrmntr’ level of intensity, while Semira, a melancholy flute-based dub speckled with the shadowy guitar patterns of Joy Division’s New Dawn Fades pays tribute to the memory of Semira Adamu, a 20 year old Nigerian asylum-seeker from Nigeria, suffocated by Belgian police while trying to deport her.
Flyover 2015’s breakbeat tale of psychopathic road rage on London’s street tightens up an older tune while Stand Up – created almost on the spot – serves as a showcase for the newest member of ADF, Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee, whose fevered blowing lends a fiery souljazz vibe to proceedings and gives many tracks an almost War-like feel. “Nathan’s like the Jimi Hendrix of the flute,” reckons Savale. “He doesn’t look like you’d imagine a flute-player to look like – a former building-site labourer and boxer, all covered in tattoos – but he’s playing flute and beatboxing at the same time!”
Get Lost Bashar, meanwhile, is one of ADF’s most powerful and affecting tracks to date, built around a chant led by poet Ibrahim Qashoush. “He was this fireman, who sang these chants against Assad during the early days of Arab Spring,” Savale recounts. “The Syrian security forces later murdered Ibrahim, because he was a singer and a poet. The track is not about the situation in Syria,” he stresses. “- it’s about how, in some cultures and times in history, music has been a powerful, dangerous force. It isn’t in this country any more, it’s been side-lined as an accessory, just for leisure-time. But there are places where being a musician is a threat to your life, a dangerous profession, and a powerful one too.”
The story of ADF’s rejuvenation begins in 2012 when the band agreed to Secret Cinema’s subversive request to re-stage their live soundtrack to Mathieu Kassovitz’s ‘La Haine’ (originally performed at the Barbican in 2001) at London’s notorious Broadwater Farm Housing Estate – a fitting setting for a film about urban dislocation, given that it was on the spot of one of the UK’s most infamous riots. The white heat of that show acted as a catalyst to cement the line-up that made this record – founding guitarist Steve Savale re-joined by original members Dr Das (Bass) and Rocky Singh (drums), and former vocalist Ghetto Priest returning to the line-up for the first time in a decade. Alongside Aktarv8r and new recruit Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee, the band has once again become a force.
“I think we sound more alive here than on our previous records,” says Savale. We’re uniting stuff that are not often united, radical creativity with a raw primitivism, the primitive experimentalism of the best leftfield rock’n’roll, the best dirty, up-front bass music.” – Tune into both the signal and the noise, and prepare to have your mind blown, and your dancefloor torn up.
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