Asian Dub Foundation :: Enemy of the Enemy
The ADF crew are back after a three year hiatus with a new line-up and a banging fourth album. Last heard on the equally captivating "Community Music," ADF along with executive producer (and dub pioneer) Adrian Sherwood, bring us twelve tracks of pure, unadulterated self-described "Asian Jungle Punk." But limiting their sound to just those three words would do a gross injustice to a band once hailed by Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie as "the best live act in Britain."
But how do they really sound after the departure of lead MC, Deedar Zaman? Many of their fans, including myself, were extremely sceptical as to whether the band would hold up without their frontman. The opening track and first single, "Fortress Europe," blows all those worries away with an onslaught of intense breakbeats, guitar noises and rapping by two of the new members, Spex and Aktarvata (formerly of Invasian). While Deedar's infectious Jamaican-influenced patois made up most of the vocals for the first three albums, it is refreshing to hear new MC's who favor a more straight up rapping style.
On the highlight of "Enemy of the Enemy," ADF recruits the ever controversial Sinead O'Connor for "1000 Mirrors", a protest song about domestic violence. Sinead's much written about "rough around the edges" voice fits in perfectly with the dub-reggae beats laid down by ADF. The track also features Radiohead's Ed O'Brien on guitars and Sonia Mehta's Indian-influenced wailing that shows up often throughout the album.
Spex and Aktarvata again showcase their rapping skills on "Blowback" and "2 Face" and they play off each other's lyrics and flows perfectly, you can tell they have been doing this for a long time. "2 Face," in particular, shows off their versatility, starting out with a medium paced flow backed by scratches and strings until the chorus kicks in, when all hell breaks loose and the MCs spit lyrics about disloyalty and deception.
Another highlight is "Power to the Small Massive", an ode to their fans featuring the famed jungle MC, Navigator, who previously shined on the ADF classic "Culture Move" from 1998's "Rafi's Revenge." Aimed straight at the dancefloor, this track will definitely be appreciated by old and new fans alike, with its infectious, upbeat melody and reggae-tinged beats. A soon-to-be classic for sure.
Overall, very little filler on this album, perhaps the only one being "19 Rebellions," a track about a prison uprising in Brazil. The fact that the lyrics are in Portuguese doesn't help much either. The three mostly instrumental tunes on the album, "Dhol Rinse," "Basta" and "Cyberabad" all highlight the percussion (drums, dhol and tabla) talents of new members Rocky Singh and Prithpal Rajput. These will undoubtedly be a pleasure to hear live in an intimate venue.
Well known for their politically conscious lyrics right from their debut release, ADF continues the trend on this album as well. "Fortress Europe" and "Basta" address the social costs of globalization, "Blowback" suggests that 9-11 was the result of failed U.S. foreign policy and the excellent breakbeat title track which closes the album deals with the increased discrimination and injustice that South Asians and Arabs have had to face in the past few years. Never ones to back down from highlighting social issues, ADF are an intelligent alternative to the rest of the stuff that gets paraded around as music these days. Power to the small massive, indeed.