Adrian Sherwood | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Adrian Sherwood




More than a decade before some category-happy writer coined the term electronica, Britain's Adrian Sherwood was using technology to lay musical categories to waste. As a producer and later as proprietor of the On-U Sound label, Sherwood has been responsible for some of the wiggiest dub-influenced music ever released, organizing potent projects like the New Age Steppers, a fluctuating lineup with members of the Pop Group, the Raincoats, and the Slits; Tackhead, with drummer Keith LeBlanc, guitarist Skip McDonald, and bassist Doug Wimbish of the legendary Sugar Hill house band; and the very loose Dub Syndicate, with members of straighter reggae outfits like Aswad, Roots Radic, and Creation Rebel. Reggae was the unequivocal center of all this music, but it was constantly and casually intersected by streaks of rock, chant, and hip-hop. In fact, Sherwood's production was so distinctive it made him an adjunct member of almost any band he worked with--including On-U Sound stalwarts Singers & Players and African Head Charge--and his live mixing became an integral part of many a performance. My gut has never rumbled like it did when he twirled the knobs for Tackhead and Mark Stewart at a Metro gig in the late 80s, sending massive waves of bass, ear-shattering rim shots, and frightening swirls of reverb all around the room. Unfortunately, most of the current On-U Sound bands--including Japan's Audio Active, whom he'll mix here--don't quite measure up to the best 80s combos. But it's so rare to see Sherwood in action these days that no opportunity should be shrugged off lightly. Tuesday, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Cheryl Joy.

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