Sunday, February 09, 2003


Album: ‘Enemy of the People’
Artists: Asian Dub Foundation
Released: 3 February 2003
CDs: 1
Catalogue: Virgin 5427892

Asian Dub Foundation’s new album, ‘Enemy of the Enemy’ is brimming with passion, aggression and social commitment. Rooted in a frenetic kind of Indo-indie reworking of dub, raga-rap and junglism, it alternates between blistering critique and (with the help of Sinead O’Connor on “1000 Mirrors”) painful exposé. In a commercial context all this stands in refreshing contrast to the vapidity of placebo consumerism. But as challenging music in its own right it falls a little flat. I welcome ADF traducing the British government’s inhumane asylum policy on “Fortress Europe”, of course. And to hear “Rise to the Challenge” on a party sound system makes a pleasant change from rehashed ‘80s and ‘90s hits or throwaway dance tunes. There’s also some nifty low-end bass and scorching tabla locked within these cuts. Master-D turns his hip hop phrases with aplomb. The slower numbers twist and turn with burning emotion… but most of the tunes are pretty conventional, frankly. Where ‘Rafi’s Revenge’ (1999) offered a fresh Asian response to reggae and drum’n’bass and ‘Community Music’ (2000) cleverly cannibalised corporate clichés, ‘Enemy of the Enemy’ cuts no new sonic ground and suffers without that edge. It is certainly lacking in comparison with the raw urban angst of ADF’s legendary soundtrack to ‘La Haine’, of which we get only fleeting glimpses here. On ‘Enemy’ Virgin can be seen to be investing in something ‘alternative’ without actually threatening the mainstream. In short, the redemption of the message is not matched by any real radicalism in the beat. A bit of a disappointment.

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