Sideshow: Admit One
Aus Music

Admit One is the latest album by Sideshow, Fin Greenall's dubmeister alias (he also records singer-songwriter material under the name Fink for Ninja Tune). Ably assisted by a number of choice vocalists (e.g., Cortney Tidwell, Paul St. Hilaire) and bassist Guy Whittaker, drummer Tim Thornton, and string player Ellie Wyatt, Greenall laid down the tracks in his own 7Dials studio in Brighton with most of them live versions.

The uptempo shoegaze-rock and stabbing guitars of the opener “Television” has more in common with Lali Puna than Bunny Wailer and is therefore the most obviously anomalous track on the album—not that that's all that objectionable when the song features the lithe vocal stylings of Cortney Tidwell, whose debut album Don't Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up made such a strong impression. What follows, however, is pure dub of the perfectly rootsy type; deeply plunging bass lines, gunshot snares, synth flourishes, and skanky rhythms abound, all of it slathered in echo and reverb (courtesy of Greenall's beloved Quadraverb GT and Boss SE50 FX units). The vocal presence of Paul St. Hilaire (the former Tikiman) is always welcome and his turn on “If Alone” is predictably strong. His vocal often multi-tracked, Hilaire navigates Greenall's intricate, driving arrangement with aplomb while Tina Grace murmurs over mid-tempo dub-funk in “Bottletop.” Elsewhere, Greenall pays tribute to Kraftwerk in “Sequential Dub” (the dark theme from “Trans-Europe Express”) and “French Model In Dub” (Samar's wordless vocal line cops a melody from “The Model”), and Wyatt's elegant string playing gets a nice spotlight during the snaking, serpentine skank of “African Cherry” and the ponderous “Strung Outro.” The album's second half shifts the focus to instrumental jams such as “Admit One,” reminiscent of one of Trenchtown's looser and wilder dub experiments, and “These Things I See In My Vision,” a stripped-down, melodica-stained skank through which Hilaire's voice floats like a ghost. Eschewing any hint of irony, Greenall's sincere love for the dub genre is evident throughout Admit One, a solid set that can also be heard as a natural complement to Deadbeat's recent Roots and Wire; in fact, with its multi-layered mix of melodica and pulsating rhythms, Sideshow's “Youth of Today” even could be mistaken for a Deadbeat cut if one didn't know better.

February 2009