Dub Syndicate

Acres of Space

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Though it's satisfying to see influential artists continue to produce new music, their later work often falls very flat when compared to earlier output. Such is the case with Dub Syndicate's Acres of Space. The record is rather derivative and illustrates that other than switching to digital sound processing, little advancement has been made in Jamaican dub since the '80s. Lincoln "Style" Scott's electronic production is all over this record, sounding uncomfortably tinny and mechanical as he overuses the typical delayed, minor-scale piano riffs. What Scott forgot is that dub and reggae are soulful forms that don't lend themselves well to digital processing. Where he does shine is in the traditional dub effects department, as his endless ping-ponged echoes are quite impressive. Musically, Acres of Space is rather lackluster, and there is so little variance in the drums that it hardly seems that Scott is even playing real skins. Occasionally the record shows signs of tunefulness, as the second cut, "Creation," is a smooth, slow-groove soundscape akin to the acid jazzy/soul rhythms of Groove Collective. Strings are employed to create a more ethereal sound surface, but even the appearance of toast kings Big Youth and Luciano can't seem to make this album stand out. Dub Syndicate is definitely steeped in the cultural roots of Jamaica, but one might prefer to explore the German techno dubbists like Pole if they are in search of true dub experimentation in the 21st century.

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