It is atmosphere that defines the epitome of dub. Produced manually as in Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & The Upsetters’ ‘Revolution Dub’ and ‘Blackboard Jungle’, or electronically as in Digital Mystikz’ ‘Anit-War Dub’ and Coki’s 2010 release ‘Burnin’, dub’s manipulation of tone submerges listeners in an audible tropical haze. Floating through this jungle-esque soundscape, yielding to explore both the shape and depth of sound, listeners discover the rhythmic life of the word, the evolved heartbeat of African oral tradition.
Rooted in reggae and the works of Jamaican folklorists including the exalted Louise Bennett, the influence of dub has progressed far past the late 1970’s accidental vocal omissions and King Tubby’s simple modifications of his mixer’s built-in high-pass filter. We have taken the genre’s expressive connection to rhythm and fascination with effects and exposed dub far from its once exclusive Rastafarian identity and fused its themes with current electronic, trip-hop and reggae movements. The influence of dub is what has sparked our generation’s fiendish thirst for drums and bass.
It was pioneering releases such as Mikey Dread’s ‘African Anthem: The Mikey Dread Show Dubwise’ that seduced UK producers like Mad Professor to experiment with dub styled layering and sampling techniques. His 1982 ‘Dub Me Crazy’ and Massive Attack remix album ‘No Protection’ were amongst the catalysts that fueled dub past the genre’s 1980’s UK boom and that inspired works like the recently released ‘On-U Sound Presents Nu Sound & Version’ album. The artists of ‘Nu Sound & Version’, including Congo Natty and Horse Power Productions, preserve dub’s focus on distortion and sound manipulation all while morphing the remixes to adapt to this age’s technological culture. However, producing dub tracks using original analogue reverb and vintage tape echo machines to preserve the traditional dub sound is increasingly favourable amongst producers.
Irration Steppas, creators of 2004 ‘Dubz From De Higher Regionz’ and reigning chairs of Leed’s reoccurring event SubDub, continue to produce traditional dub with a vintage Shaka sound but with more contemporary electronic effects and a stronger emphasis on deep bass. However, despite carrying the tradition of using the mixing desk as an instrument, the group further augments their effects with instruments and vocals during a live set. Electronic producers are continuing to absorb dub influences and often use discovered techniques to darken or chill-out a track as in Calibre’s ‘Blackhole Dub’, Phaeleh’s ‘If’, Kahn’s ‘Way Mi Defend’ as well as Kode9 & Spaceape’s 2006 release ‘Memories of the Future’. Among the best of modern dub is Grace Jones’ ‘Hurricane Dub’, fully layered with echo, reverb, flanging and phasing on every track. The album as dub was originally intended; to rework, morph and to accentuate the atmosphere of melodic poetic voice.
This reincarnation of bass heavy dub, paired with underground music movements, is captivating listeners to the point of submission with its organic rhythm. With the continual fusion and integration of dub techniques and sounds, the consciousness of listeners will continue to embody the resonant soul of bass and drum, leaving us on our knees.