Since 1998, Viennese duo Paul Zasky and Robbie Ost have been active amongst the European electronic dub and reggae scenes as Dubblestandart, their tapping of more recent dub influences such as Mad Professor and Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound System placing them in close kinship with such like-minded contemporaries as Dreadzone, Groove Corporation and Tosca. They’ve also spent much of the last year touring alongside original super ape Lee Perry, which makes the collaborative nature of this latest album from the duo Return From Planet Dub less of a complete surprise, though they’ve also managed to enlist the vocal talents of former Slits frontwoman Ari Up on several tracks here, making this sprawling 2CD set something of a significant event for dub and reggae heads. As you’d by now expect, all of Perry’s acerbic social commentary and trademark eccentricity is also firmly in evidence here. While opener ‘Chase The Devil’ targets greed and environmental destruction as Perry announces that he’s going to “put on my boots / and stomp all over the Earth” shortly before the classic Prodigy-pilfered ‘Outtaspace’ riddim kicks in, on ‘Blackboard Jungle’ he’s insisting that ‘Mr. Rich’ “respect the poor”, shortly before going off a scatalogical tangent that sees him repeated imploring the listener to “respect my shit, respect my piss.”
‘Fungus Rock’ meanwhile pretty much centres around oral sex and “sucking fungus”, a juxtaposition that once again proves that the venerable Mr Perry’s more outre lyrical explorations haven’t exactly seen him mellow with age. The gutter clearly isn’t the only place his hyperactive mind is aimed at though, as the contemporary political themes of the house-edged ‘Evil Burma Dub’ clearly illustrate: with samples of Burmese resistance workers being deployed to powerful effect. As for the backing production throughout these 12 tracks, it mainly leans towards more classic roots-reggae oriented sounds in the vein of Sly & Robbie’s more recent material (with the exception of the terse, industrial-punk edged ‘Idiots Dub’) with the second remix disc here edging proceedings substantially more towards contemporary digi-dub and dubstep influences, courtesy of a slew of strong reworkings by G-Corp, Smith & Mighty’s Rob Smith and Tom Watson. While it’s a slight disappointment that Ari Up appears on slightly less than half of the tracks here, this is a strong collaborative collection from Dubblestandart and Lee Perry that’s made even better by David Katz’s (An Oral History Of Reggae) extensive and informative sleevenotes.