The second full-length album from Austrian futurist-dub collective Sofa Surfers, Encounters
is a magisterially dark work, pockmarked by industrial percussive rattles, brooding bass lines and guest raps from a revolving team of underground rap and reggae dissidents including Dalek, Junior Delgado and MC Santana.
A paranoid response to the rise of the political far-right in Austria, tracks like "Selling Souls" and "21st Century Army" are harsh and edgy, the latter finding guest rhymer Oddatee barking "Show me your way of life / show me your identification card" in grim parody of a jackbooted fascist stooge. Eschewing traditional dub methodology, Sofa Surfers build their sonic assault out of peculiar instrumental clashes that borrow heavily from the fusion-minded approach of Kraut-rock, minimalism and jazz: "Elusive Scripts" is a tense update of Can's "Halleluwah", while the sinister string rises of "What Kind of World" prick memories of John Cale's dark orchestral experimentations. All the same, "Babylon Times" speaks reggae's language of trial and redemption, and that's the thread that runs through the heart of Encounters: a tense, bleak account from an ideological battleground as dark as it is fascinating. --Louis Pattison