I’m still a teenager, and I don’t know much about Grace Jones—what I do know about her comes mostly from name-dropping in Lady Gaga interviews and America’s Next Top Model—but I think that qualifies me as a member of the target audience for Hurricane Dub, the reworked version of her latest “comeback album,” Hurricane, from 2008. After all, Studio 54 is over and its regulars probably aren’t rocking a whole lot of dance albums, so Jones’ return to the pop arena—if it’s not an attempt to usurp Gaga and Bey—must aim to entice young club-going listeners. With its deep, deep, deep psycho-dub echoes, sparse but rich vocals and brazenly avant-garde Jonesiness, it has a shot at conquering the pop charts of far outer space.
Hurricane Dub is the perfect dance-pop album for hipsters: It’s a remix of an old-school pop star’s work, making it at once retro, contemporary, subterranean, artsy, danceable and pretty dope. Jones’ dub sounds like Gaspar Noé’s mindfuck film Enter The Void made into music (but not ripped off). Seriously, watch that movie on mute with Hurricane Dub playing—if lined up right, the patter of drumsticks at the eerily quiet beginning of “Well Well Well Dub” matches the blink of Oscar’s eyes, and Jones’ low sonorous growl of “One hand on the steering wheel” serves as an ominously symbolic soundtrack to the image of his bloody hands fading into darkness. It is the void, this album. It’s the void where noises both rich and ambient go to die—or pass on to the next plane of reality. Stripped of the original version’s disco sounds and most of its lyrics, the reggae basslines and synth twangs seem to occupy a big, empty space like a dark, scary warehouse.
Jones’ latest album is cougar dub, as sexy as it is scary. Her voice is seductive the way the Big Bad Wolf smiles, taking over the noise chamber of each song. The grinding guitars in “This Is Life” are replaced with hollow electronic gurgling, and the original’s goofy lyrics (“This is a plate, this is a cup”) are cut down to a few powerful choice lines (“This is my voice, my weapon of choice”). Her rich, stylized voice is drenched in reverb for Hurricane Dub, dripping with her own echoes on “Well Well Well Dub.”
Hurricane Dub is the original album chopped and screwed and recorded at the bottom of the sea, all murky bass, Jones’ deep voice and rasta-twangy guitar. The bare aesthetic of “Cannibal Dub” and the beatastic remix of “Devil In My Life”—”Devil Dub”—breathe new life into a musical career that has been dormant for most of the past two decades—which is, after all, as long as I’ve been alive.