Missing Brazilians – Warzone (On-U Sound, October 2015)

It isn’t too often that we get archival offerings on the same label that originally put them out, but such is the nature of Adrian Sherwood’s blissfully enduring On-U Sound. After the launch of the Sherwood At The Controls series earlier this year, October saw two celebrations of the label’s relentless work in the Trevor Jackson-compiled Science Fiction Dancehall Classics and the twisted and impossible industrial dub miracle of Sherwood’s own Missing Brazilians, Warzone. With all the deserved hype around Jackson’s sharply protean compilation, it’s worth not letting the Missing Brazilians reissue get eclipsed, because it really contains the nucleus of Sherwood’s brilliantly odd, madly generative and influential way of thinking.

This dense record is intelligent, masterful and always entertaining; providing dance and listening interest for almost anyone with some sense of judgement. More important however is the amazing synthesis of two or even three supposedly opposite facets of the British 1980s that it contains. There’s this deep, warm taste for reggae making up the angular dub of the record’s backbone, and then there’s all this neurotic Cold War synthesis going on – sometimes as industrial gloom, sometimes as slow spy story hotel scene, sometimes as synth-based dance. How did he do it? We’ll never know, however, we have this reissue to try and guess. Sherwood thinks we need more bass now than in 1984, and, of course, we have to trust him.

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