Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: On-U Sound
Genre(s): Electronic, Reggae, Garage, Dub, Club/Dance, Dubstep
To fans of U.K. bass music culture, the idea of a collaboration between legendary dub/post-punk producer Adrian Sherwood and dubstep originator Pinch (Rob Ellis) sounds like a recipe for pure soundsystem devastation. After Pinch invited Sherwood to DJ at London super-club Fabric in 2012, the duo released two singles in 2013, followed by the 2015 full-length Late Night Endless, which had moments of brilliance but was somewhat uneven overall.
When one of the masters of dub teams up with a latter-day pioneer of all things heavy, dark and loud, it's difficult not to be stirred - both emotionally and physically. 'Man Vs. Sofa' picks up where Adrian Sherwood and Rob 'Pinch' Ellis' 2015 collaboration 'Late Night Endless' left off: with cavernous bass, splintered rimshots and fractal percussion.
As producers who enjoy collaboration, Adrian Sherwood and Rob Ellis's chemistry is easily explained. Sherwood has made music alongside artists as diverse as Depeche Mode, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Beastie Boys. Ellis's work with others has, for the most part, involved the dubstep nebula, including Loefah, Shackleton and Mumdance. As well as inhabiting similar sound worlds, they have a mutual respect for each other's music.
Thankfully, the past few years have brought the exhilarating and acerbic production work of Adrian Sherwood back into earshot. In the midst of early '80s London, he helped a slew of punks--the Fall, Judy Nylon, and Maximum Joy--find their inner dub sound, and he gave rastas like Bim Sherman and Prince Far I a heavily psychedelic bass tone that made them stand apart from their dreadlocked brethren. A tireless work ethic and decades of production work make it near impossible to keep a handle on the man, but a spate of reissues in the past few years, especially Sherwood at the Controls, show just how his sound anticipated the wooly electronic experimentation that now runs through the likes of Arca, the Fade to Mind crew and dubstep itself.
Despite there being a difference of nearly four decades in generational terms, when Rob "Pinch" Ellis first invited On-U Sound maestro and post-dub overlord Adrian Sherwood as a guest on his Tectonic label night at Fabric back in 2011, it became obvious early on that there was a high level of mutual appreciation on personal terms alongside a common affinity towards connecting two ends of a bass continuum thread. Sherwood, the elder statesman, has long pushed the boundaries of the possibilities of dub and bass in a myriad of ways and genres that in some cases was so far ahead of its time that it's only been in the past few years, through his lecture series with the RBMA and a series of retrospective label compilations from both himself and Trevor Jackson, that his mark on dance music and bass culture has begun to be fully explored and realised. Pinch meanwhile, has long been credited as one of the pioneers of dubstep in Bristol, beyond its ground zero origins of South London, while also collaborating with the likes of Shackleton and Mumdance in taking the propelling the genre's sound forward in terms of structure, atmospherics and scattered polyrhythms.
Although once upon a time (namely five or so years ago) the musical collaboration between Adrian Sherwood and Rob Ellis may have seemed like a novel concept, Sherwood & Pinch have now become almost inseparable as a force of bass music. One that has, on several occasions, created something that neither would have made flying solo. On Man Vs Sofa, the second full length album from the duo that follows 2015's 'Late Night Endless', this collaborative voice is something that is more present than ever, as new angles are explored and new outcomes delivered.