Despite a Mercury Music Prize nomination for their 1998 sophomore Rafi's Revenge, support slots on tours with Radiohead and Beastie Boys, and high-profile championing from the likes of David Bowie, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Scott Walker, anarchic anti-fascist collective Asian Dub Foundation have never quite resonated with the mainstream in the same way as fellow politically active outfits like Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down. Time Freeze, their first proper greatest hits following 2001's Frontline: 1993-97 Rarities/Remixes collection, shows that although chart success has so far eluded them, they still remain one of the most convincing, powerful, and thought-provoking acts to emerge from the U.K. music scene. While there are occasional echoes of their more celebrated American peers, (the rap/rock hybrid "Black White"), this 17-track compilation, which cherry-picks the best material from their five studio albums, is a uniquely British-Asian affair which showcases their innovative fusion of dub, breakbeats, punk, and drum'n'bass, with the bhangra and Bollywood sounds of their heritage and tough-tackling lyrical themes which include anti-colonialism ("Rebel Warrior"), the 1960s peasant uprising in West Bengal ("Naxalite"), and miscarriages of justice ("Free Satpal Ram"). Formed amidst the rising mid-'90s wave of Anti-Asian violence, it's their blistering first two albums which take up the bulk of Time Freeze, with four songs included from 1995 debut Facts and Fictions and five from 1998 Rafi's Revenge. But the six songs chosen from the resulting decade such as "New Way New Life" (from 2000's Community Music), a sitar-led jungle account of second generation immigrants' impact on British culture, "1000 Mirrors," (from 2003's Enemy of the Enemy), an ethnic trip-hop collaboration with Sinéad O'Connor, and the blistering Roni Size-esque "Flyover" (the sole contribution from 2005's Tank), show the band have lost none of their confrontational or creative spark. Time Freeze: The Best of Asian Dub Foundation's constant, uncompromising, and unsettling nature will be too challenging for some, but those who like a bit of substance with their dance-punk should look no further.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien