Rodney opens up Outside the Echo Chamber with “Vitals”, a song that sets out the album’s sonic stall and lays its rebel heart bare. Deep bass, an elephantine groove and reflective coruscating bars. Hip-hop, like reggae, is at the heart of Outside the Echo Chamber. In fact, the Coldcut and On-U vectors meet at the UK’s finest practitioner of the genre, frequent Coldcut collaborator and Ninja stable-mate, Roots Manuva. “He’s one of the leading British poets,” Black says. “His lyrical take is unique, he has that bittersweet thing going on. He’s honest about the nature of existence.” “I was lucky to work on Roots’ last album ‘Bleeds’,” Sherwood adds. “I knew I was working with a great artist.”
On this record, the duo unite an array of global musicians and vocalists including Roots Manuva, Junior Reid, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Ce’Cile – to name but a few. The album was made in London, Ramsgate, Jamaica, and Los Angeles – with co-producer and fellow dance heavyweight Dave Taylor (Switch & With You). Toddla T also helped produce two songs. At the beating heart of this album are long time On-U Sound collaborators Skip McDonald on guitar and bassist Doug Wimbish. These two formed part of the house band for the pioneering rap label Sugar Hill, providing the music for some of the most seminal records of the era like Grandmaster Flash's The Message, and many others. In the bleak political landscape of early 2017, this album’s warmth, and its outward-looking, globally-minded sound couldn’t feel more welcome.
This is a properly diverse album. ”Make Up Your Mind” feat. Ce’cile is a yearning, rainy day love song, whilst Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Junior Reid and Elan breathe political fire and sonic glee into an exemplary dub in “Divide and Rule”. Elan’s reappearance on “Make Up Your Mind” is a fathoms-deep piece of reggae soul that sticks in the mind, Toddla T provided production assistance on this and also “Everyday Another Sanction”. “Kajra” is a masterly rework of an old Hindi-Urdu love song “Kajra Mohabbat Wala”. Dub is a core aesthetic and all tracks have more extreme dub versions that will also surface.
There are sixty years of shared musical experience, culture and knowledge between Coldcut and On-U Sound, every bit of which has been poured into making Outside the Echo Chamber. In the bleak political landscape of early 2017, this album’s warmth, and its outward-looking, globally-minded sound couldn’t feel more welcome.
It's the fruit of lifetimes work that has been worth the wait.