Freedom is Reverb

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In what could be one of the most crucial dub reissues of the year, Greensleeves has just published the sequel to my favorite King Tubby production of all time, Dangerous Dub. Out of print since 1996, this 1981 LP is the kind of record that teaches you to appreciate an entire genre.

Much brighter sounding than other Tubby recordings (at times the treble sounds an awful lot like Scientist) amidst a sea of never-ending reggae re-releases, More Dangerous Dub most definitely stands out. The mix is so clear and expansive, I can hear even the tiniest of details on my MacBook’s crappy internal speakers.

One of the principle points Charlie Bertsch and I put forth in our presentation on Burial at the Experience Music Project conference last month is that dub’s political meaning inheres in the way it uses reverb to symbolically create space, to enlarge it, as though the effect is it’s own metaphor for freedom.

Given how bleak things looked in Jamaica when this album was recorded, it’s no surprise that it sounds  as optimistic as it does, especially by Tubby’s standards. It is as though More Dangerous Dub is an exercise in irony, particularly given how dark dub first sounded during it’s heyday under socialist rule in the mid-1970s.