Monday, October 31, 2011

The essence of Dub

“Dubbing, at its very best, takes each bit and imbues it with new life, turning a rational order of musical sequences into an ocean of sensation.”

This quote from Audio Cultures ch. 51 Replicant: On Dub by David Toop really gives a good image of what dub music is about and the effect it projects on the listener. In the track titled, Flash Gordon Meets Luke Skywalker by Scientist and Prince Jammy you can really hear the elements of dub and the special techniques they use in the studios to create the very spatial sounds they desire. As the track starts we hear echoes of voices and a muffled bass guitar as if it is being played underwater. Every sound is repeated and delayed with precision to give it the sound that I have come to expect from a dub track. The essay by Toop discusses how the sounds that the dub producers were making were “giving the impression of an eerie tropical ghost town.”

The sound in Flash Gordon Meets Luke Skywalker definitely eludes to empty deserted streets. I can’t help but imagine a producer alone in a studio for hours late at night at their mixing boards trying to create the perfect sonic, spatial atmosphere. The track name really highlights the outer space emphasis in a lot of these tracks. There is a narrative that runs through dub tracks that are reminiscent of science fiction. “No coincidence that the nearest approximation to dub is the sonar transmit pulses, reverberations and echoes of underwater echo ranging and bioacoustics.” This quote also from Toops easy, really helps give a sense of the sounds associated with dub music. All the delays and repetitions are carefully crafted to form the essence of a dub track.

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