Influential British producer Adrian Sherwood's career has spanned nearly three decades. Beginning in the late 70s, Sherwood pioneered an innovative mix of dub, roots, noise and beats that influenced a legion of artists and producers. He decimating the boundaries of reggae, punk and pop, and traces of his distinctive sound can be heard across genres and into the pop mainstream. As a member of Tackhead he earned a reputation for some of the heaviest music ever recorded and via other projects like Dub Syndicate and African Head Charge he elevated, in terms of creative input, the position of the live mixing engineer to band member
When just seventeen Sherwood became joint founder of the label Carib Gems, publishing first disks of dub legend Prince Far I. After a string of other short-lived imprints, On-U Sound was set up at the beginning of the 80s. It was a label fuelled by the punk energy surrounding it, DIY optimism, experimentation, and it was deeply steeped in dub influences. Many of the musicians who were part of the On-U crew had backgrounds in Punk, New Wave, or Funk, which contributed to the label’s distinctive output, but there were also more traditional reggae artists on the roster like Prince Far 1, Bim Sherman, the Roots Radics and even Lee Scratch Perry himself was also associated with the label.
On-U Sound was home to Dub Syndicate, African Head Charge, The London Underground, Little Annie, Creation Rebel, Mark Stewart, Gary Clail, New Age Steppers, Audio Active, and Asian Dub Foundation.
Press releases from On-U were not common, but when they appeared they provided an interesting insight into the philosophy behind the productions, like this one for African Head charge - Drastic Season (On-ULP27) "…A mix of human, animal and machine sounds… check it if you are a dancer, a listener, a film maker, a computer programmer, a human or an animal. Special treats in store for steam locomotive enthusiasts and biologists. You've never heard such sounds in your life."
By the mid 80s, Sherwood was one the most visible producers/remixers in contemporary music, working on tracks for a staggering variety of artists including Depeche Mode, Einsturzende Neubaten, Simply Red, and Ministry. As the decade progressed he edged into more industrial terrain producing tracks for Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails. Through the 90s, he was involved with the production of releases of Megadeath, EMF, Pop will Eat Itself, Nitzer Ebb, Garbage, Primal scream and Sly and Robbie.
By the late ‘90s, On.U Sound was effectively non-operational, but together with Pete Holdsworth, Sherwood set up Pressure Sounds, a label dedicated to reissuing the classic Jamaican recordings that originally influenced the On-U sound.
In 2003, Adrian Sherwood released his first album as a solo artist, Never Trust a Hippy
(Real World). He created an original reggae score for the acclaimed independent film, Johnny Was starring Vinnie Jones, Roger Daltrey and Samantha Mumba, and realeased his second album on Real World Becoming a Cliché
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