Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Augustus Pablo & King Tubby - "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown"

Michael Veal explains in his book Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae that “the most important understanding of the dub mix is as a deconstructive, B-side remix of a 45 rpm single; the remix engineer draws on various strategies to manipulate the listener’s anticipation of musical events, and defamiliarize the vocal song on the A-side” (64). Some “various strategies” commonly employed by engineers and producers of dub music are the effects of fragmentation, reverberation and delay. Fragmentation, which refers to the technique of cutting out vocals of the remixed tracks to create a more poignant and interpretive lyrical content, was used to “create abrupt shifts in ensemble texture” (64). Then, sound engineers used delay to create rhythmic effects, which gives the dub track its characteristic echo; the reverberation technique then takes the delay effects and creates an environment in which one hears the song. Veal describes the function and relationship of these techniques in the genre of dub mixing: fragmentation creates the tension, and reverb connects it all back together. In the track “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown,” from a collaborative dub album with the same name by Augustus Pablo and King Tubby, we see these techniques demonstrated by some of the earliest in the dub scene: the vocals in the song are simply “Baby I’ve… that love,” and at the very end “Baby I love you so,” a grossly fragmented and deconstructed version of the original “Baby I Love You So” by Jacob Miller. The lack of much vocal content makes the few words heard carry a stronger message. The instrumental portion of the mix is punctuated with delay echo effects and reverberation techniques such as panning to give the track a sense of movement within the sound space, and a laid-back rhythmical cohesion. The strategies used in this track are not exclusive to the pioneers of dub: they continue to be used in more recent dub remixes, such as “Radiation Ruling the Nation [Protection],” Mad Professor’s dub remix of Massive Attack’s track. The same fragmentation of lyrical content can be heard, as well as frequent use of delay and reverberation.

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