Pop review: Into the world music zone

Dreadzone The Junction, Cambridge

This London dance collective send out tentacles of visual stimulation, cine-scapes, and biting lyrics that entice the listener into a complex sound space, assimilating Bollywood soundtracks, sea shanties, ambient electronics, references from pastoral medieval English folk tradition and verbal samples from poetry readings and films.

Live, Dreadzone don't suffer with the digital syndrome of bands like The Chemical Brothers and Orbital, where stage presence is rather sacrificed to being hunched over desks. They are confident that even if the electrics failed, they would still be able to perform (though this doesn't stop them paying tribute to Akai and Roland music machines on their albums). The flaying dreads of frontman Leo Williams, mind altering visual projections and diversion from tracks laid down in the album, mean that Dreadzone are more than tweaks and noises emanating from an omnipresent electric power.

Their substance is partly explained by two core members of Dreadzone, Greg Roberts on drums and bassist Leo Williams, who are both from the iconic eighties band Big Audio Dynamite. "What's going on in dance music now is like the old punk dream come true, the ethic of anyone can do it. It just came true 10 years later because, with a sampler and a drum machine, anyone really can do it."

Global awareness brings with it a political message of new-age hope mixed with unnerving realism. After a gig was postponed due to the Brixton riots, Dreadzone played a later date and finished the set with their anti-Criminal Justice Bill track, Fight The Power, using backdrops of the Brixton troubles and the 1992 American race riots. They have even stepped into the fray of new Britain with their recent chart hit, Little Britain: "We need to show that it's not Great Britain anymore," says Roberts. "It's Little Britain; it's moved on. You can't reject your past, but you've got to be able to adapt; it's a new age."

Tonight at The Junction, Clifton Road, Cambridge. Tickets pounds 8 advance, pounds 9 on the door. Box office: 01223 511511.

Jennifer Rodger

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