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 salvos—the 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.