Sandoz: Live In The Earth
Soul Jazz

One-time Cabaret Voltaire member Richard H. Kirk isn't the first name that leaps to mind when the term ‘digi-dub' comes up in conversation but the post-punk pioneer does a remarkably convincing job creating an authentic roots style throughout Live In The Earth's eight tracks. And, yes, the key word is ‘roots' as Kirk's dub has considerably more in common with King Tubby, Lee Perry, and Scientist than with Deadbeat's intricately plotted ‘scapes and the oceanic echo-chamber style of Basic Channel-Chain Reaction. As much as the music evokes Trenchtown, it explicitly references Africa more (in fact, the album's first sound is a voice uttering ‘Africa,' a sample Kirk repeats so often it becomes a unifying album motif).

As expected, there's no trace of Kirk's industrial and post-industrial dance background on this ‘Chapter 2' sequel to the 2002 release Sandoz in Dub: Chant to Jah. Still, though Kirk hews to a classic horn- and bass-driven reggae-dub style, he also modernizes it with subtle infusions of electronics and synthesizers, especially on the noticeably bleepy “Strike Fire” and “Sit In Judgement” with its mid-song eruption of synth flares. Kirk has been using the name Sandoz since 1992 and Live in This Earth definitely shows him to be no poseur. As he's credited as the sole writer, arranger, and producer, one presumes the album to be a wholly laptop-based production. You'd hardly know it, though, judging by the steamy grooves that drive with such purpose and determination throughout.

September 2006