Although he has never become a household name in the States, in England Dennis Bovell
commands a respect close to that accorded such reggae royalty as Mikey Dread
and Steel Pulse
. His work with dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson
has brought him critical acclaim, and his solo albums, while relatively obscure, have also generally been quite good. Audio Active
is one of his best. His previous dabblings in rock and R&B are left behind here in favor of straight reggae, but those dabblings have enriched his sonic palette and given him a chance to improve his singing (which is a good thing, since his voice is front and center on most of these tracks). "Yo' Love" is a convincing, slow lovers-rock grind, while the even more laid-back "Audio Active" features a great horn chart, and "Dub Master" extols Bovell
's own prowess in the grand old style. Through it all, the Dub Band lays down rich, deep grooves that consistently maintain a delicate balance between bass-heavy minimalism and textural complexity.