Jah Wobble & The Nippon Dub Ensemble ��

The latest album from former PiL bassist yet again dips into Eastern traditional music. After releasing ‘Chinese Dub’ a couple of years ago, he’s back with a mixture of moody and atmospheric tunes. Over the years, Jah Wobble has experimented with an array of styles and has never been shy to produce his own original takes and blends. Dub, jazz-fusion and folk have been all been given the treatment in the past and this is his second in a planned trilogy of three Far Eastern-influenced albums. The musicians gathered together for this are Joji Hirota (vocals, taiko drums), Clive Bell (shakuhachi), Keiko Kitamura (vocals, shamisen, koto), and Robin Thompson (hikaritchi, sho, shamisen).

To the uninitiated, the album will come as a bit of a shock. The considerable talents of Mister Wobble are given a thorough examination as he experiments with sounds and arrangements that other musicians would run away from. The album is oddly minimal, though with layers that become more apparent the more you listen. The wailing, pained vocals and twanging shamisen are ably glued together by bass, keyboards and electronic trickery. The result of all of this is an atmospheric, cross-cultural experience that will undoubtedly raise many eyebrows but on the other hand will gain many plaudits.

A startling and unexpected vocal wail from Joji Hirota introduces the album opener, ‘Shinto Dub’. In case that didn’t grab your attention, the booming taiko drum beating and the haunting hichiricki flute surely will. This is a track (like every other track) is steeped in Japanese folk tradition and surprisingly, like four other tracks on the album, was written by Jah Wobble himself. The other tracks on the album not penned by him are arrangements of traditional Japanese tunes; ‘Kokiriko’ - said to be the oldest known song in Japan and thought to be 1000 years old.

Having started out as part of the foundations of PiL, Wobble has come a very long way and here he has delivered a fascinating and exotic collection. The booming bass underlines the often sad and ambient airs and the arrangements are often perfectly enhanced with some very cleverly inserted silence.