Here are the liner notes by Steve Barker for this album (I knew I had saved them somewhere!):
In the On-U Sound discography "Starship Africa" may show up as the label’s eighth release in the late summer of 1982 but in fact the album was issued two years earlier as the only offering from the short-lived 4D Rhythms label. Appearing with quite beautiful artwork depicting an eclipse complete with full colour diamond corona, the album was presented, although perhaps not received, as a concept - something a little bit out of the ordinary from the usual dub reggae offerings of the time.
The actual story goes something like this. Two years earlier, just after the completion of "Dub from Creation", the young Adrian Sherwood found himself with the basic Creation Rebel cutting a bunch of rhythms in the studio for a character with the wonderful name of DJ Superstar - a contemporary of the Mexicano, and also rapping on top of funked up reggae rhythms. Most of these tunes had bass lines from Tony Henry of Misty in Roots. Sherwood had hummed the bass lines and Tony has re-created them - hence the melodic quality of the bass lines on the finished tracks, one of which can be discerned as a reworking of Bim Sherman’s "My Woman".
What happened to these original tracks, who knows. But two years later Sherwood and Chris Garland, a friend from Cheltenham, were starting up a record company/agency in London’s Soho with the strange name of 4D Rhythms. The agency side of the business was to run acts like Dexy’s and Medium Medium, but they were also desperate to get some vinyl out on the street. In fact so desperate that Sherwood turned to the bunch of rhythms he had created a couple of years earlier, which up to that time he had considered quite "lame". They were up for transformation!
Style Scott, in from Jamaica, did not so much overdub but played live over the original drum tracks from Charlie Fox. Freed from the stylistic requirements of the Roots Radics, Scotty was encouraged to loosen up and lay rolls and splashes all over the tracks in his now inimitable style. Six percussionists, that is the rest of the musicians and engineers and whoever was around the studio appeared phasing in and out of one channel, creating a trippy treble effect - which hid the fact that they were all out of time. Amongst these players was Sucker, a friend of Del from Osibisa, who occasionally gives the percussion mix a rich calypso feel. When the album was being mixed Chris was urging Adrian to get madder "more reverb, more delay ........". But nothing could be so mad as the idea to mix the tracks blind. That is - turn over the quarter inch tape on the deck and feed in the effects and run the mix backwards, turn it back over for the finished product and somehow it made a crazy kind of sense. So much so that the mix was finished in one day!
On the original vinyl there was just one track listed for each side. The title track was credited as a "soundtrack from a forthcoming motion picture". One theory is that this little fantasy in the mind of Sherwood could very well have worked its way into the brain of one William Gibson, author of "Neuromancer" the classic debut cyberspace novel published in 1984. As reading that book now one can only hear Creation Rebel’s "Starship Africa" pounding out of the in-flight sound system on board the dread-crewed space tug Marcus Garvey.
To conclude, I can think of no more appropriate recommendation for this album than the words with which the reggae don broadcaster, Dave Rodigan, greeted it at the time of its release "Adrian, what do you think you are trying to do to reggae .......?"