“It was the best gig we have played in the last five years,” Count Dubulah says. “It has had a huge impact.” He was describing the spectacular debut of Temple of Sound at this year’s WOMAD festival in Reading, U.K. Bursting with energy and creativity, the band’s arrival on stage coincided with a spectacular downpour of rain that drove a large number of people into the Siam tent. But if they came partly to escape the weather, the audience soon realized that it was catching one of the undisputed highlights of last year’s festival.
Neil Sparkes and Count Dubulah are the band’s co-writers and producers. Sparkes is also the band’s vocalist, percussionist and songwriter. Dubulah creates its distinctive bass and guitar sounds. Sparkes is a big stage presence, an artist who knows how to draw in the audience and present a great show. With his porkpie hat and his high-energy performance he is like a new David Byrne. Dubulah provides a brilliant line in pulsating rhythms and dramatic musical eruptions.
Temple of Sound’s performance is both polished and loud, with a fascinating range of sounds, ranging from playful and rocky songs like “Chica Bonita” to the reggae delights of Lee Perry’s “I Chase the Devil.” The two fabulous female singers, Julianna and Wendy, provide flawless supporting vocals on songs like “Gold Of The Sun.” The band feels like a new Talking Heads, combining in a similar way a multitude of influences with a distinctive and compelling sound that is all its own.
With Temple of Sound the audience is in very capable hands. Sparkes and Dubulah were both founding members of Transglobal Underground and were at the forefront of the experiments in the 1990s with techno and world music combinations. As such they played a central part in the emergence of a distinctive global dance club sound.
They are very proud of the achievements of Transglobal Underground. “We spent six years as Transglobal and did something very new,” says Dubulah. “We were the first live world music dance crossover band. It was cutting edge stuff.” But that was then, and this is now. “Transglobal was a great band but it had gone as far as it could go,” Sparkes says. Fashions have moved on and global music is now returning to a more raw and energetic sound. Characteristically the guys are one again at the cutting edge, making great music and influencing many other artists.
Sparkes feels that world music has always been a part of his life. “Being brought up in London it was quite natural for me to listen to different styles of music: reggae, jazz, rock, whatever. When I came to make music myself it was quite intuitive for me to draw on all these influences.”
WOMAD has played an important part in their development: “For us, playing the recent gig at WOMAD was like a homecoming,” says Sparkes. “We have picked up a lot of our influences over the years from stuff we have heard at WOMAD festivals. This year’s performance by Temple of Sound had a great sense of event. It was like past, present and future coming together.”<
People’s Colony No.1 is available in the U.S. on Narada/Real World.
Neil Sparkes and the Last Tribe’s album Burning Mask is available in the U.S. on Interchill.
Temple of Sound’s First Edition was not yet available on a U.S. label at press time, but can be found as an import on the Fashion TV label.