By Gili Malinsky
By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
It makes sense that Almamegretta's Venite! Venite! comes at you inna dub/mix stylee, with concert performances pasted together from live shows six years apart. The quartet of Italian-alternative heroes began as full On-U Sound acolytes, and their decade-plus of activity includes work with dub-underground mainstays Adrian Sherwood (who mixed their 1995 breakthrough, Sanacore), Massive Attack, and Bill Laswell.
What baffles more than two new studio tracks opening a live CD is that Venite! boasts the highest reggae quotient of any Almamegretta disc since Indubb in 1996. Lingo (1998) marked a too-radical jump from Jamaica-rooted rhythms to a drum'n'bass-style dancefloor mix. By 2001's impressive Imaginaria, the band had worked back to a dynamic median, applying dub touches to flesh out full melodies rather than rhythm fragments. Only the new disc's closing salvosthe metal-guitar-edged "Suonno" and "Riboulez le Kick/Pa'Chango"hint at those later four-on-the-floor explorations.
2001-vintage atmospheric squiggles from dubmaster D.raD were probably quite effective in setting the live-arena stage for the sensual bass throb and sampled noise of "Fa Ammore Cu'mme." Raiz's suave crooning in "Nun Te Scurda" makes him sound like a Neapolitan Bryan Ferry backed by the early Specials and mixed live by Sherwood (or maybe just Eno-era Roxy Music if they were more into '70s Jamaican rockers than '50s greaser rock).
A time-slip to '96 Amsterdam digs up more roots, with Paolo Polcari's keyboards augmenting bluesy guitar, D.raD's sonics, and a harder push from Raiz. So, what to make of Venite! Venite!? History lesson and hits valentine to old fans, with studio tracks pointing to the future? A dub exercise in seamless segues across time, continuity ruptured by mixing-board raptures? Maybe it's both . . . or just dub normalcy to four sons of Hannibal singing in a Neapolitan dialect, and enamored of modern sound science.