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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean


By Nils Jacobson
Published December 15, 2006

Gardens Of Utopia
New Blues Music

The artists who make up Version—Richard Jones (a drum ’n ‘bass/dub veteran) and Benny Sanches (who has remixed Depeche Mode and Meat Beat Manifesto, among others)—refer to their heavily-produced electronic music as rich in “herbal rhythms,” and that’s probably as good a description as any for this neo-futuristic 12-track collection. The opener, “American Rasta,” draws heavily from dub darkness with heavily effected guitars, sax and voice samples, reverberant textures and a bass-driven groove. It calibrates expectations for the rest of the music on the record, which is all about hypnotic trance and alternate psychedelic mindspaces. View each track as a chapter in the journey, and provided you’re willing to approach the trip from an open, relaxed standpoint, the narrative flow can be quite satisfying. The interlocking drum ’n’ bass patterns of “Head Stash” are balanced by hints of voice and melody, eventually morphing into a repetitive snare-driven groove overlaid with minimalist samples. The political manifesto built into “The Occupation” comes across as overbearing and naive, but it’s over in less than two minutes, and fades away into oblique sing-song female vocals.