For numerous reasons, reggae crossover successes are an all-too-rare thing. New York label Easy Star's well-judged 2003 reworking of Pink Floyd's million-selling album was one – and this follow-up remix set repeats the trick of being equally accessible whether you care for the source material or not.
In 1999 label owner Lem Oppenheimer realised both the Floyd and 70s dub were often owned by the same people and dispatched co-producers Michael "G" Goldwasser and Victor "Tickla" Axelrod to synthesize the two using the house band. Guests included deejay Ranking Joe, harmony group The Meditations and roots archaeologist Corey Harris – and a hugely successful franchise (spawning Radiohead and Beatles albums) was born.
For the new Dubber Side, the tracks are massaged, cajoled and sometimes forced into new shapes, resulting in a similar collage of well-worn dub motifs (echoing snares, melodica) with more progressive sounds. Michael G's poignant remix of his own Time Version – despite a touch of dubstep – is understandably fairly respectful of its parent. Ditto Canadian producer Dubmatix's horns-driven Breathe/Speak to Me and the gentle tweaking of Brain Damage by UK eminence Adrian Sherwood and Jazzwad.
Other remixers have strained and rebelled against the constraints of form. Mad Professor throws up a wobbly jarring transformation of Money; J.Viewz extends short drum’n’bass interlude On the Run into a lush Rhodes-laden meditation; and fellow Israeli producer/DJ Kalbata's initially unrecognisable take on Any Colour You Like brings the influence of dubstep to the project in a way one would hope Gilmour and co would condone.
There will be plenty of reggae fans who will still blanch at the original concept and as many who will see that ventures like this bring new listeners into the fold. But whatever you think of Pink Floyd or modern dub, these versions are never boring. This second re-imagining rightly uses its predecessor as a launch pad while keeping the Floyd's uniquely ambivalent overall mood, but allows the re-mixers ideas to take flight.
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