This is the first proper mix I ever did, back in those pre-blog times of 2002. I was interested in tracks that blurred the lines between reggae, dub, electronica and dance music. I still am, but it seems harder to find interesting angles on it these days.
Thanks to Kate Bakhaus for helping me out with a copy of the mix when I found out that my CDR master had gone glitchy.
“For some of us the experience of reggae was far more unsettling than a mere alphabetised clutch of Wailers LPs. People get warped by dub and reggae, and they never recover. And there are reasons for this.” Ian Penman
Received wisdom has it that “real” dub was made in Jamaica in the 1970s, by engineers mutating tracks by “proper” musicians. None of the tracks on this CD meet all of these criteria. Very few meet any of them.
Without wishing to dis the golden age of reggae (indeed – check for future mixes) there has been a wealth of music recorded more recently that tries to build on the studio sorcery of Tubby, Perry et al in a way that looks to the future rather than upholding some kind of bogus tradition.
Arguments abound as to whether dub is a genre, or a technique, with purists favouring the former and visionaries ploughing head-first into the latter. This ism-ing and schism-ing is all too easily upset by the continual flood of gimmicky product – insipid ambient digi dub that doesn’t even qualify as nice background music, or perhaps “dub techno” in which yet another workmanlike 12″ tries to rescue itself from obscurity by the addition of a bit of echo and reverb.
As ever, the selector’s role is simply to wade through the dirt looking for the jewels. The tracks here vary from experimental electronica to techno, to the much-maligned “UK dub” steppers played by soundsystems like Jah Shaka and Abashanti. If there is anything that holds them together other than “dub” it is a certain edge – a dread intensity far removed from the image of reggae as summery beach music. It’s cold inna babylon, as a wise man once said.
This mix was hammered out live, in two takes – and it shows. What you hear is what was played. If I was playing these tracks out, you’d get more version excursions and some selections representing the other flavours of dub and reggae.
John Eden – June 2002
1. spectre vs scotty hard – the joust (wordsound)
2. pole & manuela krause – mein freund der baum (monika)
3. luciano – final call (dub) (xterminator)
4. rhythm & sound with shalom – we been troddin (burial mix)
5. (gregory isaacs – easy take it easy) (joe gibbs)
6. dub syndicate – ezy take it ezy (ruts dc remix) (on-u sound)
7. rootsman – wadada (sema mix) (virgin)
8. disciples – return to addis ababa (boomshakalacka)
9. disciples – message (version) (boomshakalacka)
10. iration steppas – killamanjaro (version) (universal egg)
11. winston fergus – can’t take no more (dubwise)
12. vibronics – one drop (tandoori space)
13. unitone hi-fi – racehorse (wordsound)
14. mannaseh – skenga (version) (response)
15. iration steppas – high rise (version) (universal egg)
16. chris jay – rough version (dubwise)
17. centry – release the chains (universal egg)
The mix was played on ResonanceFM in London, a community radio station in Hamilton, New Zealand, and out of Iain Watson’s window, to an unsuspecting Edinburgh public.