Monday, October 22, 2007

Domestication and Reclamation of Space in Dub

The rise of commodity scientism in the 1950's, as Timothy Taylor points out in Strange Sounds, began to confuse domesticated space and authority. While women were consuming space age kitchen appliances, men took on the hi-fi as a tool "to reclaim some domestic space and authority in the home". (Taylor 79) What would this domestication and reclamation sound like in Dub, a genre in which much of its music production took place in domesticated space (such as Lee Perry's Black Ark) with high technologies?

The home as the domestic space is a place of familiarity, where goings-on can be controlled. Riddims in dub music inhibit similar feelings as they are generic progressions that form the basis of these songs. The bass and saxophone lull in King Tubby's "Bag a Wire Dub" forming a space of familiarity and safety, allowing the listener over the the 3 minutes to become intimate with the riddim. The reclamation of this domesticated space takes place when (often) arrthymically, we hear a reverberated clang, which is probably King Tubby abusing his spring reverb unit. The domesticated space is disintegrated; it becomes fragmented and interrupted challenging the established safety within the riddim. "Bag a Wire Dub" is a constant flux of riddim-domesticated space and clang-reclaimed space. Scientist's "Beam Down" inhibits this flux in a slightly different way. A bass line creates a smooth, regular riddim with slight variations of reverb added. However, throughout the track, similar clangs and drum hits fragment the space created by the riddims, gradually growing in intensity throughout the track. The volume of these clangs grows throughout the track, reminiscent of of the hifi's volume level causing "spatial/spousal conflict" within the home. (Taylor 80) Much like how the hifi emerged as a reclaimer of domestic space, the abused spring reverb unit reclaims songs from the riddim.

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