There have been some striking areas of synchronicity in the respective careers of the dub-enhanced bassists trading under the nom de guerre of Jah Wobble (John Wardle) & Youth (Martin Glover).
Both artists have always produced consistently challenging work, and when they attach their names to a project, it’s tantamount to a guarantee that the work will possess quality, artistic integrity, and depth.
So when it was announced that Wobble was to join Youth for the third and final part of the Dub Trees triptych, those that had travelled with Youth from Celtic Cross’ Hicksville (1996) to Dub Trees’ East of the River Ganges(2006), must have been tumescent with expectation.
A couple of years separate their first forays into “serious” bands, the equally influential and heavy (gravitas-wise) Public Image Limited (Wobble) and the mighty Killing Joke (Youth).
Both artists bailed from their respective bands a few albums into their careers with varying degrees of acrimony to expand their cultural horizons. In the process, they each added extra colour to their musical palettes.
Wobble forged his musical mettle with the (genuinely) legendary Can, the fruits of which, How Much Are They(1981), demonstrated what a confident and versatile musician he had become, at ease collaborating, writing, and even directing seasoned musicians.
Subsequently he felt that a full line-up was the way forward and hand-picked musicians for what was to become The Invaders of the Heart, the highpoint of which was Wobble sparring effectively with Irish songstress Sinead O’Conner on the single “Visions of You,” culled from the parent album Rising Above Bedlam released in 1991.
Since then he has worked with a bewilderingly diverse set of musicians from China, Japan and North Africa; each an acknowledged master of their own instrument.
Youth too has travelled far both musically, culturally, and literally. His numerous and diverse musical projects include: Blue Pearl, The Orb and myriad other collaborations, the sheer number of which would keep a compiler of such things busy for at least a full week.
In some respects, his fame has come more as a ‘go to’ über producer sculpting pop/rock perfection for Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, The Verve, and even Paul McCartney.
I’m doing both artists a slight disservice in not fully detailing their incredible journeys, but there simply isn’t the space. And speaking of things celestial, we have come with indecent haste to June 2016 and Celtic Vedic.
The premise of the title is that two different cultures, ancient Irish & Scottish, can be wedded to Indian & Hindu forms. At first reading this concept might seem incongruous. But upon hearing the finished results you will be left wondering why no one thought of this musical and cultural cross-pollination earlier.
Set opener “Return to the River Ganges” is a musical mission statement par excellence.
Initially there’s a quiet tableaux featuring exotic bird calls, a gentle caress of water, a slow cinematic build & then a sitar rings out and an eerie drone acquiesces to a languid, sonorous bass line.
This lifts us up and carries us spellbound into the song proper. There are the occasional snare crashes, but the rhythm is primarily a widescreen kick and artful percussion that buzzes like an insect swarm above a river.
“The Galicians of Asia Minor” is based on a minor chord (clever) over which a cavernous and sinewy bass line (both are credited withbass) anchors the song as sitars and flutes spar for dominance, both eventually seceding to an acid house-like sequencer.
The Celtic influence is most notable on “Indika Keltika” and “King of the Fairies.”
Fiddle player Gerry Diver ushers the song and from then on adds musical interjections and pretty colouration as and when appropriate. It’s tremendously interesting and a lot of fun.
The closest the album gets to a song in the formal sense is “Voyage of the Pytheas,” which offers a sensual and soulful vocal courtesy of Lisa Knapp, who glides and envelops her voice around the mournful music, both blissfully and enticingly.
After the mournful and dignified “Sumerian Odyssey” shudders to a sensual climax, its last chord sounding like birds taking flight into a cinnamon sunset, there’s another Celtic workout: the aforementioned “King of the Fairies.”
And then all too soon we alight reluctantly at our final destination: “Deer Hunter.” This sleek and sensuous trance groove is the perfect way to finish this landmark album that’s full of coherent fusion and kaleidoscopic musical colour all working together beautifully to produce spellbinding and life-affirming digital dreamscapes.
This vibrant and confident album is nothing less than aural ayahuasca, minus the disorientation and sickness of course. Indeed, it possesses all of the added benefits of blurring existing musical boundaries and notions of genre, paring back preconceptions, and opening fully the spiritual and art appreciating chakras.
At times you will be beatifically buffeted, swept up, and held aloft, and at other times soothed by siren song. At all times you will be immersed within sonorous and sensual bass. Let Celtic Vedic wash over you and into you, and it will repay you in kind for your open mindedness by soothing and caressing your aching soul.
Notable Tracks: “Deer Hunter” | “The Galicians of Asia Minor” | “Indika Keltika” | “Return to the River Ganges” | “Voyage of the Pytheas”