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SLY AND ROBBIE Drum & Bass Strip to the Bone by Howie B Palm Pictures
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The Independent Culture
ON THE face of it, this hook-up between the bespoke reggaematic rhythm section and mix-tailor to the stars, Howie Bernstein, ought to result in some stylish new modes. Unfortunately, while Sly and Robbie are great at creating basic grooves, and Howie has a particular gift for polishing tracks, there's a gaping hole where the melodies should be. Instead, industrial noises and dub effects collude in concealing the shape of the pieces, which are all context and no subject.

The 10-minute opener, "Into Battle", is typical. Swathed in echo, the groove is filtered ruthlessly, bottlenecked into a simple pulse, before fragments of the rhythm tracks are allowed to accrete around it. It's a few more minutes before the bass finally flows in, like Tarmac over hardcore, and seven minutes before shreds of guitar provide the final decoration. Despite tough, macho titles such as "Exodub Implosion" and "Superthruster", the overall attitude is more one of desultorily hanging around, vainly hoping for something interesting to appear in the scrapyard soundscapes.

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