In Search of Black Judas – Darryl Jenifer

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The Bad Brains bass player steps out on his own with this rather subdued dub recording that feels more like a set of mash-ups and remixes than it does an album of new material. As a member of one of the most uniquely identifiable punk bands of all time, and a monster bass player, it stands to reason that one might expect a more forceful or exclamatory presentation.

The spiritual and political themes, on the other hand, are clearly and forcefully spelled out. The titles alone say a lot. “Black Judas” begins with an insistent opening sequence then it melts into some dub atmospherics before dissolving completely by the end. “Trinity Rub” is above average dub-rock, for sure, and it’s mildly euphoric, but it never really kicks in like a good buzz should, just hanging around in that netherworld of in-between.

“Blackvovo Love Theme” has a decent reggae-soul vibe and it sports some great, weird, cut-up vocals that are buried way down in the mix. “Black Slavery Dayz Mosh” is cool reggae/dub rock, and it’s also the one track that most resembles the material on Bad Brain’s singer H.R.’s first solo outing from all the way back in 1987, but, for some reason, it feels like something is missing here. Where’s the super- heavy, earth-mud dub bass playing one is entitled to expect? Where are the mind-blowing, cosmic- hallucinogenic passages from outer space? Sure, there are some trippy vocal parts, some squirrelly beats and some flashes of Darryl Jenifer’s overall prowess, but there’s nothing that really declares itself with any power or intensity.

Too many of these songs are really just mellow, echoey snippets of sound collage or mellow beats wrapped in layers of reverb. Maybe he was going for low-key here, and the point of this material is to create one long, sequenced dub experiment. On that level it succeeds. Maybe he’s just tired of playing bass. Am I wrong in suggesting that any time a member of the Bad Brains is involved in anything expectations are going to be rather high? Enough said.