The music of Creation Rebel has featured some of reggae’s greatest singers and players, but it’s best understood as a vehicle for the creativity of one man: Adrian Sherwood. Creation Rebel came into being when Sherwood—a young studio hound and a face on London’s post-punk scene—was passed tapes of Jamaica’s The Arabs, who were then Prince Far-I’s backing band. Working with engineer Dennis Bovell, he drenched the album with delay and overdubs, and the result was 1978’s Dub From Creation, an audacious experiment in sustained dub techniques that went as far as anything coming out of Jamaica—if not further.
A Bandcamp exclusive digital-only compilation on Sherwood’s revived On-U Sound imprint, Vibrations: 1978-1982 collects music from Creation Rebel’s brief four years of life. Often, it distinguishes itself through Sherwood’s boldness of vision. Take “Starship Africa Section 3” and “Space Movement Section 2” from the group’s 1980 album Starship Africa, on which a mislaid tape of riddims from the forgotten DJ Superstar is catapulted into the cosmos, with tracks spun backwards, drums layered over drums, and voices sped up to chipmunk pitch.
Elsewhere, we hear Sherwood refining his sound, toning down the madness a notch, and melding his spacious style with some talented players, many of whom would become mainstays of the On-U roster. Prince Far-I brings thunderous rasta soul to “Frontline Speech,” Doctor Pablo weaves a wistful melodica through the clockwork rhythms of “Doctor’s Remedy,” and bassist “Lizard” Logan and drummer Lincoln Scott emerge as one of dub’s great rhythm sections, punchy and creative and full of groove.