Archived entries for Dub

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.

Dubbing with de Gaulle

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The cover of a January 1969 edition of the French weekly news periodical L’Express, featuring the face of former President Charles de Gaulle set inside a Star of David. Surrounded by an English translation of a letter de Gaulle wrote to David Ben Gurion in 1967, it’s figured prominently in revisions to my book, whose 2nd draft I’m furiously working on finishing right now with my editor.

A scanned page from European Union official Francois Massoulie‘s idiosyncratic volume, Middle East Conflicts, the image is bordered on either side by the end of one of my own book’s chapters, an open Real Audio browser loaded with a BBC page, and my most recent playlist, featuring the brilliant Sledgehammer Dub LP by the consistently overlooked roots producer, Niney the Observer.

Year End Top Ten: Music

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2007 was an astounding year for dubstep and Indo-Arab impacted American hip-hop. Chicago’s long gone Los Crudos finally made it back into print, while baile thug funk and Tuareg guitar rock reminded worriers about the world music category that it’s not just about happy natives penning primitive campfire songs. Thumbs up to Pressure Sounds for putting out the best dub reissue of the year. As usual, Sublime Frequencies outdid everyone by coining the term ‘jihadi techno.’

In light of these observations, here’s what we played the most:

Burial, Untrue (Hyperdub)

The Revolutionaries, Drum Sound (Pressure Sounds)

Los Crudos, Discography (Lengua Armada)

Oh No, Dr No’s Oxperiment (Stones Throw)

Shackleton and Appleblim, Soundboy Punishments (Skull Disco)

Tinariwen, Aman Iman: Water is Life (World Village)

Madlib, Beat Konducta India (Stones Throw)

Omar Souleyman, Highway to Hassake (Sublime Frequencies)

Various Artists, Box of Dub Volume II (Soul Jazz)

V/A, Proibidao C.V: Forbidden Gang Funk From Rio de Janeiro (Sublime Frequencies)

Manna for Your Subwoofer

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I finally picked up this outstanding collection of Coxsone Dodd-produced instrumentals on Sunday. Issued almost exactly a year ago to this day by Heartbeat, its an absolute must-have for dubheads and newbies alike.

I first intended to buy Downbeat when I was perusing the stacks at Jammyland in NYC last month. But, like all my trips there, I ended up feeling happily disoriented by the store’s immense selection, and left empty-handed.



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