Monday, October 16, 2006

Asians tackle Arab despot

Those familiar with the varied work of Asian Dub Foundation may not be surprised to see them branch out into opera. ADF have a reputation for using their recording career as a stepping stone to other projects: British Council tours to Brazil and Cuba; setting up their own ADF Education network, to promote the teaching of music and technology to young people. Their recording career spans several albums: Facts and Fictions (1995) R.A.F.I (1997) The Mercury Prize-nominated Rafi’s Revenge (1998), Community Music (2000), Enemy of the Enemy (2003) and the latest offering, Tank (2005). This longevity combined with their taste for invention has seen them cement their place as one of the few successful bands to emerge from the plethora of agit-pop collectives of the mid-to-late 1990s.

And given their fondness for tackling political issues, Qadaffi: A Living Myth was a suitably big topic for the big stage. This is the band that went one louder than the Scream in releasing a single entitled Free Satpal Ram, an Asian man who, after defending himself against a racist attacker, is still imprisoned and subjected to mistreatment.

In ADF’s hands, the thought provoking subject matter comes to life, inviting the audience to ponder key phases of the life of the Libyan leader. Asian Dub Foundation can pat themselves on the back by extending their creative portfolio another dimension. The production may have ended, but the music throughout was fantastic – the traditional ADF bassline spliced with mystic Eastern melody – the soundtrack to the production, should it see the light of day, will be well worth parting with a few pounds for.

Go here for reflections on the operatic hagiography. Who knows, ADF could well be writing ‘Hussein, man or living moustache’ or ‘Ahmadinejad, the world’s most dangerous side parting’ in a few years time.

Neil W
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