Deeder Zaman :: Minority Large
[simple tings/beatink]   review from shree  

The exit of Asian Dub Foundation's lead vocalist after the release of 2000's Community Music was a loss that most fans thought the collective would never ever recover from. That album, and the one before it - Rafi's Revenge - were opuses of the rawest form. With their own brand of agit-ragga-punk-rock (paying due homage to Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and Primal Scream, of course), ADF gave West-bred, next-generation South Asians a reason to be taken seriously on the music scene. Addressing issues as varied as false incarcerations, Naxalite uprisings and racial profiling, the ADF sound was at once a socially conscious rally and a full-on dance party. M.I.A. comes the closest in aim but clearly ADF were pioneers of a style yet to be reproduced by anyone, South Asian or otherwise. MC Master D, as he was then known, was the youthful, brash voice that led the shout. His departure left a void in the group which has taken on various forms since then; while other talented, young vocalists jumped in on the proceedings, ADF without Deeder Zaman would be like Radiohead if they lost Thom Yorke - brilliant musicians in their own right but never quite the same.

After plenty of rumors of a project called Rebel Uprising (trawls through the London subculture and something called Google produced next to nothing, including a strangely sparse MySpace page), early 2008 brought about the release of Minority Large, the solo debut of Zaman (not to be confused with his bredren - real, not metaphorical - Sam Zaman aka State of Bengal). Released as a physical product only in Japan (on iTunes for the rest of us), Minority Large finds the younger Zaman treading largely the same routes as his previous supergroup, only this time he's largely alone in the roles of writer, programmer, vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and all round studio badass. Dub, hip-hop, electronica (both gentle and frenzied), and reggae all get adequate representation on what is a crossing of global basement riddims and studio wizardry.

A mediocre Eastern-tinged set of openers leads to third track "Bobo Sec", a dub-wise gem of a tune that serves both as a story of ghetto unrest and ignorance and an ode to, what else, cannabis (Bobo is slang for the herb). Praises of Rastafari and Haile Selassie over a jazzy dubplate make up "Nah Go Stoosh" while "Fire Within" is a buoyant dance jam. "Two Rocks" and its remix, poignant songs about freedom struggles, are closer to the Roots style of reggae more than any other track on the album. Legendary producer Adrian Sherwood (Lee Scratch Perry's classic 1987 Time Boom X - De Devil Dead) brings the dub echoes and effects in translating the original into a more futuristic vision. Instrumentals "Tidal Wave" and "Shenai" sound like Community Music-era ADF, complete with jungle breaks and heavy dub booms.

The best cut, "Young Blood", has Deeder and Passion patois-ing through moody subterranean bass that straddles the fence between dub-ska and jungle-lite. The most experimental track on Minority Large is "Barcelona" which blends samba, breaks, weighty bass chords and electronic tabla bols. While there is no sign of ex-bandmate Dr. Das having a hand in this album, the track sounds like something off of Emergency Basslines and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Seventeen tracks is an awful lot of time to keep someone's attention but somehow under Deeder Zaman's guidance, it does not seem long enough. While it may not send the deep-bass loving dubstep-ers into a tizzy, it's certainly got enough of a kick to keep this ADF fan content for a while. Here's one more reason to be jealous of those forward-thinking Japanese although a UK/US release can't be too far behind.

ethnotechno rating: 5 out of 5
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  1. Minority Large
  2. That's The Way It Is (pick)
  3. Bobo Sec (pick)
  4. Nah Go Stoosh
  5. Fire Within (pick)
  6. Peanut Butter
  7. Brewing Storm
  8. Two Rocks (pick)
  9. Jam On Toast
  10. Keep Right
  11. Young Blood (pick)
  12. Shenai
  13. Stereotypes
  14. Whirlwind
  15. Barcelona
  16. Two Rocks (Adrian Sherwood Mix) (pick)
  17. Tidal Wave (pick)