Ryan Moore, an alumnus of the Legendary Pink Dots and the Tear Garden, has been releasing solo albums of instrumental dub reggae under the name Twilight Circus (or Twilight Circus Dub Sound System) since 1995, mostly on his own M label. But his experiments with the genre go back to the early '80s, when he first started acquiring vintage analog recording equipment (to get that inimitably swampy, rootswise 1970s sound) and multi-tracking home recordings of his compositions. Dub from the Secret Vaults is a selection of previously unreleased recordings, including some that were recorded straight to cassette during those early days. One would expect an album like this to be wildly uneven in quality, and mainly of interest only to die-hard fans. But in fact, it's only slightly uneven, and most of it will appeal to anyone who appreciates the vintage dub sounds of King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Really, only one track -- the queasy and aimless "Twilight C Meets Tommy Z" -- truly disappoints. Everything else exemplifies both the dense, wet reggae sound of which Moore is an undisputed master and the melodic invention that is necessary to keep instrumental reggae interesting for more than a minute or two at a time. Highlights include the aptly titled "Electric Africa" and the equally aptly titled "One Drop," as well as the melodica-driven "Achou." Highly recommended.
Review by Rick Anderson