Adrian Sherwood’s “At The Controls” On-U Sound Retrospective

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UK producer Adrian Sherwood is a living legend.

His discography is bonkers and frankly doesn’t quite make sense on paper. And as good as any one of his productions are individually, no one song would necessarily give you pause.

But, like a Chuck Close painting, his discography requires you looking at it (that is, hearing it) from a distance. Trying to connect the dots up close, without hearing the work would seem like a blotchy riddle, at best.

Self-described “tone deaf,” he is arguably one of Dub music’s finest producers and innovators.

He’s produced for and with Prince Far I, Mikey Dread and Lee “Scratch” Perry. The brilliance of that work garnered him remixing/production duties for everyone from The Slits to The Fall to Sinead O’Connor to Depeche Mode to Pop Will Eat Itself, adding Dubby wobble to all things post-punk and synth pop.

Personally speaking, some of Sherwood’s most facemelting work is actually in a genre that feels like the aural yin to Dub’s yang; Industrial music.

His work in the late 80s with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails gave Industrial a palatable sheen (if grinding your teeth to dust is a flavor you don’t mind.) The sonic gauntlets of “Twitch and “Pretty Hate Machineprovided a point of entry to the harsher realms of Industrial found in KMFDM and Skinny Puppy and a slew of other acts. Many of which were given the Sherwood treatment.

The dude’s ability to have his name associated with such a wild range of productions is a testament to his genius, but it’s in the actual experiencing his application of his sound to a track regardless of artist or genre where his art becomes clear. Thankfully, on the first volume of a new collection of his works on Sherwood’s own On-U label Sherwood at the Controls, Vol. 1 1979-84″, both the initiate and longtime fan alike are given a truly fantastic portrait of the artist.

It’s awesome and the first volume comes out in early April. It’s not even out yet and I’m already anxiously awaiting the next one.