Strategy: Future Rock

One listen to Future Rock and Strategy's “World House” single begins to seem even more like a manifesto for the Community Library label head's polyglot approach to music-making. Three years on from Paul Dickow's last Strategy full-length, Future Rock is not only stylistically encompassing but a deft time-traveler too, drawing into its orbit everything from Fela and the Ohio Players to mid-‘90s Chain Reaction. Assembling the material from a plenitude of live recordings, archived improvisations, and band practices (some of which extends as far back as 2000), Dickow weaves phantasmagoric sonic masses into nine multi-faceted settings that singly and cumulatively mesmerize.

“Can't Roll Back” begins the album in a dreamy dub haze that recalls the last Strategy venture Drumsolo's Delight until, two minutes in, Dickow's ‘band' starts jamming. The mix quickly grows into a broiling cauldron of disco hi-hat patterns, chicken-scratch rhythm guitar, Bootsy-styled bass lines, and impossibly funky clavinet playing. One wishes this brilliant jam, that single-handedly resurrects the ‘70s, would never end. In like spirit, the silken atmospheres of “Running On Empty” seamlessly weave funk, dub, ambient, and soul into an alluring, impressionistic epic. The song slowly grows in intensity and volume until its climax where a Jan Hammer-styled synth solo rises briefly to the surface of the dense haze. The entrancing “Stops Spinning” layers Dickow's soft chant-like singing over a shimmering soul base (“Everybody in the room / Stop spinning / Everybody on the dance floor / Stop swinging around”). As if heard through a muffled scrim, “Red Screen” undertakes a slow but rapturous climb heavenward until its jarringly abrupt end rapidly cuts to the chilled closer “I Have To Do This Thing (Planete Sauvage Mix).” The collection's so solid that even interludes, like the ethereal drone “Sunfall (Interlude),” sound substantial.

Significantly, the album is intricate and complex in construction yet never sounds laboured or contrived. In fact, its sole misstep is its slightly misleading title: it most certainly is ‘future' music, but, given the tracks' supple warmth, a better title might have been Future Soul.

May 2007