“I never tried to make a commercial record…I know that sounds like a bit of a weird thing to say, because you try to sell records, but I was always trying to find a path of my own,” producer, deejay, and “mixologist” Adrian Sherwood explains via Skype, hanging out in his kitchen cooking and discussing the contents of Sherwood at the Controls Vol. 2: 1985-1990, out now on his label, On-U Sound.

Emerging from the early punk movement, Sherwood has spent his career making his own path, and the process has established him in disparate fields. He’s a dub innovator, working with artists like Prince Far I, Suns of Arqa, and Mickey Dread, and a pioneering remixer, re-cutting singles by Depeche Mode, Sinead O’Connor and Cabaret Voltaire. He’s led groups like the influential New Age Steppers and contributed to records by the Pop Group, the Fall and the Slits, all the while blurring the distinctions between electronic music, punk, and reggae.

This new collection, a sequel to last year’s Sherwood at the Controls: Vol. 1: 1979-1984, explores Sherwood’s involvement in the development of industrial music, his collaborations with NYC hip-hop session players Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, and Skip McDonald as Tackhead, and selections from his fruitful relationship with Lee “Scratch” Perry, culminating in their essential album Time Boom X De Devil Dead.

Sherwood remains incredibly prolific. His mixing recently appeared on the blissful Neptune by Higher Authorities and on Japanese trio Nisennenmondai’s clattering, throbbing #N/A, and he’s in the midst of prepping a new album for On-U called Dub…No Frontiers, a featuring a selection of woman singing over his riddims (an early release from the album, Neyssatou singing Bob Marley’s “War,” indications it’ll be a must-hear selection).

We caught up with Sherwood to get some insight into his process, examining his attraction to making a “racket” over crafting hits, and lessons Lee “Scratch” Perry taught him.

Aquarium Drunkard: This collection starts in the early-to-mid ’80s, at at time when you had stepped away from reggae and dub, following the Murder of Prince Far I in 1983.

Adrian Sherwood: I loved reggae still, but I was really like, “You know what? This is depressing.” I didn’t feel much at all like doing any [reggae music] really. I was surrounded by a bunch of great reggae musicians who were my friends, but it wasn’t their fault. At that time I was starting to get invited by the likes of Depeche Mode and others to do remixes. They always called me in to do the weirder remix– not the commercial one — which to be honest with you, suited me right down to the ground, because I’m not a musician, I’m not that confident [saying] “Okay, let’s go and design a hit record or something.” I was quite happy making records for myself, which were a little bit out of the normal scope of things.

So when I started to get offered opportunities to work with non-reggae stuff, but still use the Jamaican effects and techniques I’d picked up, it was really quite nice. I was getting paid; I wasn’t putting out the records, people were hiring me…it coincided that at that time I did a lot of jobs, and it coincided with me meeting Doug, Skip, and Keith [with whom Sherwood formed the industrial hip-hop group Tackhead] in New York.


Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 437: Jean-Michel Bernard – Générique Stéphane ++ Can – I Want More ++ The Velvet Underground – I’m Waiting For The Man ++ The Soft Boys – Vegetable Man ++ White Fence – Growing Faith ++ The Olivia Tremor Control – Memories of Jacqueline 1906 ++ Faust – It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl (AD Edit) ++ The Velvet Underground – I’m Not A Young Man Anymore ++ The Paragons – Abba ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Donn Shinn & The Soul Agents – A Minor Explosion ++ T.L. Barrett And Youth For Christ Choir – Ever Since ++ Shintaro Sakamoto – Mask On Mask ++ Flash & The Dynamics – Electric Latin Soul ++ Donald Jenkins & The Delighters: Elephant Walk ++ Symphonic Four: Who Do You Think Youre Fooling ++ Milton Henry: Gypsy Woman ++Bishop Perry Tills – I Pound a Solid Rock ++ Serge Gainsbourg – New Delire ++ Phil Upchurch – Sitar Soul ++ White Hinterland – Dreaming Of Plum Trees ++ Jan Hammer Group – Don’t You Know ++ Joe Valentine – I Can’t Stand To See You Go ++ Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con  ++ The Three Degrees – Collage ++ Dion – Baby Let’s Stick Together ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Robert Vanderbilt & the Foundation Of Souls – A Message Especially From God (AD edit) ++ Ned Doheny – I’ve Got Your Number (demo) ++ Daughn Gibson – Bad Guys ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++ Jonathan Rado – Valentine’s Day (McCartney) ++ Paul McCartney – Arrow Through Me ++ Gil Scott-Heron – Message To The Messengers ++ Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread ++ Jerry & Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ Jack Nitzsche: The Lonely Surfer / Oscar Harris: Twinkle Stars Boo Galoo ++ Joe Bataan: Chick-a-boom ++ Jacques Dutronc: Les Cactus ++ The Shadows: Scotch On The Socks ++ Chubby Checker – Goodbye Victoria ++ Nancy Dupree – James Brown

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.


Side B, track one. The humid, dirty business that is Shark Move’s “Evil War”. The past couple of weeks have found me revisiting the monster three-lp set the track is culled from — Those Shocking, Shaking Days: Indonesia Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock And Funk 1970-1978. Go ahead and get hip to this again, as summer’s just begun and it’s only getting hotter.

Shark Move :: Evil War


Stonehenge, 1970. No druids here, just Havens.

Richie Havens :: Open Our Eyes


As a conceptual artist, Ali Beletic seeks to make her art experiential, utilizing vast desert backdrops in the Mojave and Sonoran to continue the land art traditions of figures like Michael Heizer and Richard Long. Her installations exist as physical spaces, often massive and cinematic in scope, but still approachable, spaces for the viewer to be in and marvel at. With her debut album, Legends of These Lands Left to Live, recorded with her partner Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family, CY Dune), Beletic achieves a similar spaciousness, her songs feature a wide-open sparseness that evokes the deserts outside of Tucson or Joshua Tree, where Beletic honed these songs, but also the swampiness of Memphis and the punk spirit and avant-garde attitude of New York City in the ’70s.

“I believe in rock & roll and I believe you have to set up a vanguard opportunity trigger to keep up with it,” Beletic writes, and that philosophy serves as a guiding principle in her work, in art she creates, Lightning, the label and magazine she founded with Olinksy, and on the new LP, which combines poetic fervor with coiled blues riffs, scorched garage rock, and junked up rockabilly.

Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with Beletic, phoning from her home outside Joshua Tree to discuss what brought her out to the desert, what the land holds for her, and her use of rock & roll as a “symbolic” force.

Ali Beletic :: Ends of The Earth


Guitarist Jeff Parker is best known for his inventive playing in post-rock outfit Tortoise and his collaborations with Rob Mazurek and other Chicago-centric experimental combos, but on his fantastic new solo LP The New Breed, out Friday, June 24th, Parker’s in a funky, soulful mode.

It’s a killer record — one of our most listened to of the year — equally rooted in jazz and funk, and built upon beat-making experiments Parker posted to his MySpace page back in the late 2000s in Chicago.

Meditate on this: Charles Mingus and company, European tour 1964, captured in Belgium, Norway & Sweden. Free up a couple of hours and wade into these waters. I assure you they are deep.

Related: Charles Mingus :: I’ll Remember April – Antibes Jazz Festival


This is everything. Recorded live in Los Angeles, 29 years ago, at the now defunct Vine St. Bar & Grill. Culled from the Verve record Let It Be Me, “Be My Husband” kicks off the set, finding Simone both spirited and in control.

Nina Simone :: Be My Husband (live, 1987)

Note the, weighted, lived-in presence of the material, here, versus the following video from 1965, taken from Simone’s appearance at the Antibes Juan-les-Pins Jazz Festival.

Heroes of Toolik coverAs a collective, Heroes of Toolik are a troth between legendary musicians of the past 45 years of the New York avant-garde. Featuring guitarist/vocalist Arad Evans (Glenn Branca Ensemble), guitarist Robert Poss  (Rhys Chatham, Band of Susans), bassist Ernie Brooks (The Modern Lovers/David Johansen/Arthur Russell/Gary Lucas/Rhys Chatham), and Billy Ficca, drummer of Television and Neon Boys, the group seems to hide in plain slight; lords of the underground.

A rollicking carnivalesque experience, Heroes of Toolik stretch out into the horizon without sacrificing a tight grooving grip — an explorative scat of minimalist blues, rock & roll, psychedelic pop, orchestral folk, gothic bluegrass, and theatrical art-punk. Piercing moments of noise and pillows of rustic jazz find home on the same disc, existing in bountiful harmony. This focused yet spacious eclecticism reaches mastery on their forthcoming sophomore LP, Like Night, due out in August.

Produced by Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, New York Dolls, etc.), and recorded at Seaside Lounge and The Silent Barn in Brooklyn, the record captures strange magic in a bottle, thanks in no small part to the major contributions of trombonist John Speck and vocalist/violinist Jennifer Coates, whose performances on album highlights “Warm,” “Say Virginia,” and “Again” are breathtaking and bighearted. With an unaffected empathy, sentimental warmth, and daring compositional forms, bassist Ernie Brook’s involvement in Arthur Russell’s pivotal 1986 lp World of Echo really shines through on moments like these.

As a whole, Like Night exudes an aura of long summer nights, one of fireflies, transience and echoes – and nowhere so profoundly as on album closer “You Will Not Follow” whose luminous and misty tenor provides a hazy setting for Coates’ harmonic and austere, gazing commands, melting into the rich, sinuous wash amongst her brothers in arms. Heroes marching into the unknown. words / c depasquale

Heroes of Toolik :: You Will Not Follow