Audio Active – Cosmos Chaos (13)

December 27, 2009

Dub underpinned much of Nineties music, especially electroncia. The Orb, Woob, Future Sound of London, drum ‘n’ bass: at its broadest, it can be argued much of the electronica underground was a meeting of Detroit with Kingston. In fact, dub was largely overexposed, with too many dub rhythms turned out with less and less thought. It was such a simple thing to do simply and easily, and too many pretenders made it all go a bit stale.

Thank goodness for Japan. Audio Active, active in the Nineties and surviving the early part of this decade, are nothing if not vibrant. If one cannot be revolutionary, at least be lush, majestic and epic. The poorer end of the Nineties dub scene thought epic just meant long but just a single ideas which overstayed their welcome. Good dub was always about emphasis and atmospheres – the definite bass and drums and the suggestive everything else. It was the suggestive everything else which made a dub track good – it may be hazy and help stretch the tune out, but it has to still say something.

Audio Active do say something: something languid, something formal, something intense and something busy. At every level the music says something different, and on repeated listenings different aspects come to the fore depending on the mood of the listener. Sometimes it is the lazy brass, others the skittering background warbles? It’s a journey which depends on the listeners perceptions – which sounds all spiritual, but on a more practical level really mean’s the listeners concentration, and which it is willing to focus on in the moment.

They didn’t last long into this decade, but then again were building on the last. Of course, dub predates even those heady days, and will continue ad infinitum, as it should, and can not fail to. Whether it is worth listening to is fully dependent on who is behind the knobs, and what they put as much as what they take out.


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