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Melting Pot Dub

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Mezmerized by the groove state, a snare shot, soaked in digital delay, ricochets into the air above your head, decaying slowly over a insitent, throbbing sub sonic bass line that drives deep into your body. Jamaican dub creates a hypnotic beat, building a tension until it breaks….hide the children - dub is loose.

Dub has it’s roots deep in the Jamaican “sound systems” of the ’50s and ’60s and the mobile-deejay dance parties. And was cultivated by such luminaries as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, and Horace Swaby, a.k.a. Augustus Pablo. Dub takes its name from the “dub plates” that were cut as instrumental B-sides to the hit ska, rocksteady, and–later–reggae singles of ’60s Jamaica. Producers routinely dropped vocal and rhythm tracks in and out of mixes to test sound levels.

The dub sound–rhythms, bass lines, mixing sensibilities, and vibe–is experiencing a massive resurgence that is stretching across contemporary music, from the bass-heavy trip-hop of Massive Attack and Portishead to new instrumental post-rock bands such as Tortoise to the manic, cut-time beats and subsonic rumble of U.K. jungle and even into some punk bands, such as Fugazi. Meanwhile, producers and deejays as Bill Laswell, Tricky, the Orb, Mad Professor, Adrian Sherwood, the Chemical Brothers, DJ Ninj, DJ Spooky, the Crooklyn Dub Consortium, and others continue to push toward the 21st century and are taking dub along with them.

Around the mid-70’s, recording studios and sound systems were popping up everywhere in Kingston. The worldwide success of Marley had made reggae a leading Jamaican exports. Dub tracks had become a staple of the DJs and Sound Systems. From here there was only upwards. As many Islanders emigrated they took with them the memories and love of reggae and dub. Dub outside of Jamaica has evolved on a slightly different plane than the original Jamaican style, making more use of the sampled drum beats and drum machines as well as computers. It has taken on new forms and been meshed with other electronic genres. The word ‘Dub’ itself has almost lost it’s original meaning as it becomes integrated with other forms.

During the 70’s in England as reggae began to take hold and influence popular music, there were some that were attempting to meld the heady bass rhythyms and spaced out drums with their own music. Both the West Indian community in London’s Brixton section and the punk movement high on musical revolution helped to bring dub influences to the forefront. The dub-laden opus Sandanista from The Clash appeared out of this experimentation as well as Brixton poet Linton Kwesi Johnson [1] and his Dread Beat an’ Blood and Forces of Victory albums. Soon afterward, U.K. sound systems were bringing dub into new technological areas.

As some of the more obscure Jamaican records of the ’70s and ’80s find a new audience and dub becomes further absorbed into popular styles of music, some interesting hybrids–such as with jungle and trip-hop — have arrived on the scene, melding ambient, “chill-out” and electronic-music sensibilities with fat bass lines and infectious beats. This and the perpetuation of the traditional dub style are pushing the limits dub and are adding sounds from a kaleidoscope of sources, expanding the dub palate into unfamiliar sonic territory.

It may sound coy, but dub exists both as a science and a ritual, the rhythm above all else.


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A selection of 14 (not always) items that are turning heads here at headquarters.

The Furious 14 for February 2007

  1. Tastespotting - a visual collection of food ideas
  2. Insect Lab - the fusion of insects and watches.
  3. Wood Pixel - create pixel art using wood blocks. Good clean analogue fun.
  4. Flow - a wonderful 'game' that is built upon flow theory.
  5. DJs Anonymous - download some mixes.
  6. Urwerk - extremely expensive, but there are some amazing watches.
  7. G Living - contemporary green living.
  8. Politically Incorrect Alphabet - G is for gun.
  9. Crooks and Liars - a left leaning political blog catching people in their lies.
  10. Orbit1 - take a brake and look at some photography.
  11. John Tejada - excellent techno/tech-house.
  12. Wallspankers - the international sticker and graffiti community
  13. Calculate Your Greeness - is 2007 the year that world goes green...? Hopefully, meanwhile, calculate what you're doing to the planet

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