2006’s Chicago Massive was perhaps a bridge too far for the Drastics, a sprawling two-CD set that, while eminently entertaining, was at times a study in excess. Waiting, in contrast, returns the group to their roots, a sharp, tight set that’s a potent reminder of the band’s power to thrill. Every number within is a fascinating aural journey, with Anthony Abbinanti‘s studio wizardry as crucial to the trip as the band’s musical excursions and lithe genre shifts. However, it’s the Drastics phenomenal instrumental meanderings within a dubby setting that separates them from the originators, although on numbers like “Das Krampus” and “Nilbog,” Abbinanti proves himself adept at traditional dub as well. He’s the master of the crisp drum echo — instantly transporting listeners back to the roots age, but he also agiley muddies up the decades as well, as with his sly use of the synth stab. With nods to King Tubby, Sly and Robbie, Adrian Sherwood, et al, Abbinanti was inspired by the legends, but has created a distinct dub style all his own. Particularly impressive is the evocative “Feast,” the slinky “…Strike Back!” and his light as a feather, heavy dub “Nilbog,” but there isn’t a less than stellar production or mix within. Even as he shows off his own skills, though, Abbinanti constantly highlights his bandmates’ as well. He and bassist Chris Merrill‘s rhythms are superb, the album’s pumping heart. The guitarists, meanwhile, display an almost unnerving ability to shift styles on a dime — Mikey Chung-like rock-reggae licks splay into Hendrix-esque leads, wah wah guitar splutters into avant-garde jazz, and cheery reggae guitar slides into surf. The brass players are equally versatile, their forté is winding a Far East style into improvisational jazz, while nodding to the Skatalites on one song, the Supersonics the next. At the center of the action, keyboardist Otto Roeser can whip up a psychedelic froth or chime out a delicate bell-like melody as he builds up the atmospheres, moods, melodies, and rhythms throughout the set. Their music is awesome, while the vocal tracks are stunners as well. Fada Dougou takes two, splendidly nicing up the set with the cheery “Good Time Tonight,” while his vocals float in and out “Das Krampus.” In contrast, Zulu strips away the facade of the sex industry on the incendiary, dancehall flavored “Redlight,” a lethal retort to the likes of the Police‘s “Roxanne.” Spanning the generations, bridging the worlds between jazz and rock, reggae and prog, and bringing dub to a whole new pinnacle of sound, fans need wait no more, the Drastics have finally delivered their masterpiece.

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