Dub Specialist – [Album]

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

In the last forty years, many groups of musicians have stepped forward boasting that the strains they’re making will “expand your mind” and/or “alter your consciousness” but, for my money, while 13th Floor Elevators, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Apples In Stereo and the dozens of others that have offered to feed your head and expand your mind have their charms, the only true mind-expanding exercise to be had comes from laying back with a dub reggae record and immersing oneself in those sweet, sculptural rhythms. What makes dub different? Unlike those aforementioned bands – who often all but scream ‘I’m on drugs! That’s how I got so relaxed,’ dub makes no claim to chemical assistance (in fact, good dub doesn’t have lyrics); always methodical in pacing and with bass for miles as well as understated, “real coil” reverb, the producers take existing recordings from other musicians and rework them to put the best spin on the instrumental cuts – which is exactly what reggae archivist Dub Specialist (nee Clement Dodd) has done here.

Taking prime cuts from the likes of Horace Andy, the Heptones, Cornell Campbell and Larry Marshall as well as a host more, Dodd assembles a set here that is all vibe with no drive to go anywhere other than to burrow into your brain and soothe your amygdala. From the very outset of “Starring Dub,” the party has already started and, while you may have shown up fashionably late, you haven’t missed anything yet. Under Dodd’s watch, the rhythms instantly engulf listeners and bring them up to speed (or down depending upon where your head is when you throw the disc on) and place a premium on aura and vibe over anything so contrived as content.

These eighteen tracks are cut short so as not to lose listeners between the reverb coils and have the bass amped up in the mixes as far as it can go without drowning anything but, even when the refurbished production here reveals the limitations of the source tape (vocals, when they do appear, tend to break up and guitars often reveal the damage done to the sources from which they were taken if the registers get too trebly) at no point do those flaws detract from listening; in fact, it gives Dub a homegrown quality that is very welcome.

Over the last few years particularly, the currency of dub reggae has been devalued as pop acts attempt to replicate the feel of it in a clean, sterile and modern studio with emotionally mixed results; it sounds okay, but is missing the spirit around which the original sound developed. That this record avoids that pitfall makes it of even greater value; Like what the pop tarts have done but want to hear the real deal? Check out Dub you won’t be disappointed.


Roots Archive's information on CS Dodd


Artist Direct page of assorted tracks

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