Last year's essential first installment of Sherwood At The Controls covered the febrile early '80s period, when the producer warped everyone from Far I to The Fall to The Pop Group's Mark Stewart. Between that comp and Trevor Jackson's fantastic Science Fiction Dancehall Classics overview, it was quite the year for taking in Sherwood's sonic mastery. Only a year has passed between Volume 1 and Volume 2, but Sherwood's sound is drastically altered here. Mark Stewart's "Hypnotised" is built up from bludgeoning drum machines and a sneered threat to "pay it all back." Dub reggae's warmth has been scrubbed away, replaced by the sharp edges of early hip-hop.
Music technology was changing in the mid-'80s, and Sherwood, always at the cutting edge, embraced samplers and emerging machine rhythms. But this technological shift made his productions more bracing and enervating. Rather than the heady sensation of crumbled herb, the era of Volume 2 prefers metal shavings and body blows. There's plenty to love about the low-slung Afro-electro of "Masimbabele," but Sherwood's nearly nine-minute remix adds so little to the original that it grows tedious. On Tackhead's "Mind At The End Of The Tether," the guitar gets turned into a buzzsaw, and on the remix of Ministry's "All Day," the synths grind like a drill bit. It'd be one thing if the musical backdrops were simply aggro, but many of the artists collected here, from The Beatnigs to KMFDM, are all about gnashing in your face like Dobermans.
It's a relentless and taxing listen for the first two thirds of Volume 2, but thankfully Sherwood's reggae roots finally creep back into view. He collaborates with Lee "Scratch" Perry, adding whiny synths and a coach's whistle to "Music & Science Madness," and the Dub Syndicate tracks show him doing digi-dancehall with robo-toasting on "Early Mafia." On the collection's highlight, "Haunting Ground Dub," Bim Sherman's track is as ghostly as its name suggests, a hi-hat figure turned into something spectral. You can just imagine Far I's spirit floating in it.
Fri / 1 Jul 2016
01. Mark Stewart - Hypnotized (12" Mix) (1985)
02. Tackhead - Mind At The End Of The Tether (1987)
03. Doug Wimbish & Fats Comet - Don't Forget That Beat (Alternate Dub) (1985)
04. Flux - The Value Of Nothing (1986)
05. The Unknown Cases - Masimbabele 89 (Adrian Sherwood Remix) (1989)
06. Keith LeBlanc - These Sounds (1989)
07. The Beatnigs - Television (Dance Mix) (1988)
08. Pankow - Girls & Boys (1987)
09. Ministry - All Day Remix (1986)
10. Rinf - Big Bondage (Kinky Sex Wet Mix) (1987)
11. KMFDM - Don't Blow Your Top (Adrian Sherwood Remix) (1988)
12. Dub Syndicate - Snatch A Style (1985)
13. Lee "Scratch" Perry - Music & Science Madness (1987)
14. Bim Sherman - Haunting Ground Dub (1986)
15. African Head Charge - Hold Some Version (1990)
16. Dub Syndicate - Early Mafia (1989)