Cast your memory back to that first ecstatic headphone experience with Dark Side of the Moon, with or without chemical enhancements, with or without the Wizard of Oz sync: the album cover symbol of a single white light split through a prism, revealing the surprising internal complexity of the spectrum, rendered in trippy musicality of 2001-level lyricism – Roger Waters’ thoughts on the vague cusp between existentialism and experientialism.
The almost unbearable lushness of “Breathe” gives way to the phasing electronic treadmill of “On the Run,” which explodes and echoes into the chronographical tintinnabulation of “Time” (with David Gilmour’s iconic, laconic guitar cutting to the bone), many, many a teen’s first intimation of mortality; and on and on until the laundry list of emotions, sensations and experiences “and everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon,” in a final dark reversal.
Yes, for most of us this was an experience so familiar that a permanent gully was worn into our frontal lobes, one many of us grew so tired of that we avoided that gully like the plague – until now.
Now imagine the entire Dark Side of the Moon experience reinvented in a rub a dub stylee, a reggae version of the trippy classic called Dub Side of the Moon by a studio amalgamation, the Easy Star All-Stars.
I didn’t know what to expect, but the result is a spectacular success. Roots, dancehall, jungle and other reggae-derived styles blend miraculously, but it is the big, booming, undulating drum and bass echoes of dub that matches the original for sheer wondrous spaceyness.
Conceptualist Lem Oppenheimer tells of the project’s origins and makes clear the producer’s high seriousness and attention to detail: “The arranging of the material was a challenging task; we were determined to get to the heart of the piece and turn it into something that might have been recorded this way in some parallel universe … Since guitar solos are less than predominant in traditional reggae, David Gilmour’s leads were replaced by horns … melodica [brilliant] … and toasting.”
Terrific guest vocalists include Sluggy Ranks, Corey Harris, Ranking Joe, Kirsty Rock, Nesta Pine, Frankie Paul, Dr. Israel, and the Meditations. Highly recommended with or without headphones and/or spliffage.