Various Artists

Talisman

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AllMusic Review by

The marriage of dub and chillout music isn't really as obvious as it now seems. Dub got its start in early '70s Jamaica, where producers would drastically remix popular singles in order to whip the crowds at outdoor "sound system" dances into a dancing frenzy. As reggae slowed down and became more and more associated with Rastafarian theology and sacramental drug-taking, dub correspondingly became more viscous and mystical; to most non-specialist fans, the term now is almost synonymous with meditative, downbeat electronica. Talisman splits the difference, offering over 70 minutes of dubwise instrumentals that are firmly rooted in dub's dark and mystical reggae foundations while still offering a generally relaxing and unthreatening ambience. Some of the artists will be familiar to those with some experience in this territory: the ubiquitous Bill Laswell makes an appearance with the legendary ex-PiL bassist Jah Wobble on the jazzy and faintly evil-sounding "Orion," the Suns of Arqa make their bow with the brilliant one-drop groove of "Ark of the Arqans," Manasseh contributes a new mix of "Temper Dub." But some of the album's finest moments come from its lesser-known contributors, notably Stress Assassin (whose "Time" features an actual singer in the mix) and the Kumba Mela Experiment (whose "That Which I Could Only Sense" is perhaps the most serenely gorgeous track on the album). Very highly recommended.

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