After a string of releases from Bukkha, Blind Prophet, and Von D, NY-based Dub-Stuy continues to solidify itself as one of the premiere East Coast sound systems and labels by establishing a new collaborative series titled “Dub-Stuy Meets”. The sole intention of the project is to bring together like-minded artists that “have a clear dub influence but do not operate solely within the sphere of the dub and reggae world”. The first of this series brings together seminal LA beat-scene producer Ras G of Stones Throw and Fly Lo’s Brainfeeder label and Parisian junglist dub mad scientist Moresounds. With the EP featuring two tracks a piece from each producer, Dub-Stuy Meets starts off on the right foot by highlighting the ways in which dub and reggae has informed and influenced each producer’s unique artistic visions. Taking that same pioneering experimentation that was born in 1970’s Kingston and tracing the roots through the various branches, Dub-Stuy Meets is a conversation between the present memories and future past of a near fifty year musical tradition. Furthermore, Dub-Stuy Meets highlights this cultural conversation by laying bare how without dub’s kaleidoscopic fractures of echo, reverb, filters, and the enduring sub-bass the music we love so dearly would be radically and inalterably different.
Ras G holds down the A-side of the plate with the two torpid steppa-like constructions “Gorilla Glue” and “Global Shit-uation”. Both set a sluggishly stoned pace and are surrounded with sonic ephemera pulled straight from the same galaxy Sun Ra was birthed from. “Gorilla Glue” is interwoven with bird song, monkey howls and other straight-to-DVD nature documentaries that you’d find at a 1$ bargain bin or an interstate gas station. The snare is run through some sort of bit crushing and further strung along the signal chain is a chorus pedal and an echo pedal as well. It almost becomes overwhelming as it takes up so much “sonic real estate”. Between the incessant jungle noise and the snare refractions, a introspective melody emerges that shows an appreciation of how Augustus Pablo structured his longing and melancholic melodies.
“Global Shit-uation” follows the same sort of rough-hewn outline set by “Gorilla Glue” by smearing as much digital debris across the entire song. It kinda sounds similar to what Jahtari have been doing for a while, but rather than an overt homage to Prince Jammy and early dancehall aesthetics, Ras G keeps the proceedings looser and more psychedelic (in typical LA fashion) as sounds are almost collaged and scrape-booked together. A constant open hi-hat is played with wild abandon while what seems like field recordings manifest then dissipate just as quickly. A children’s xylophone outlines a half-melody and in general a certain Lee Scratch Perry (ie kitchen sink) approach to creating interesting sounds informs “Global Shit-uation” for a thrilling listening experience.
On side B, Moresounds takes careful aim for the floor with his unique take on 160bpm bass music, drawing from the deep well of jungle, drum and bass and footwork to craft “We A Tribe” and “Deep Base”. A cursory overview of his discography illustrates his melding of dub and jungle across varied labels like Astrophonica, Cosmic Bridge, 31 Recordings and even the dubwise dubstep Lion Charge Records. Additionally, for those lucky enough to see Moresounds live, his sets faithfully honor dub production techniques and tradition in a live context by dubbing up tracks of his own as well as those of close friends. This technique is on full display as “We A Tribe” swaggers round with a half-time dnb feeling but also comes off like a warped Prince Jammy track too. Complete with patois soundclash chatter to bruk it up while the percussion is lovingly tweaked through a couple different hi-pass filters and run through spring reverb boxes that matches King Tubby’s liberal use of both throughout his entire career. Where Moresounds updates what Kingston started is in the air-raid sirens that buzz saw their way through the track while cyberpunk synth work discharges a hummable melody.
“Deep Base” on the other hand is leaner, sounding similarly close to previous outings on Astrophonica and Cosmic Bridge. That being said, the reggae and dub influences are tad kitschy here; a few keyboard skanks, some echoing dub siren and thats really about it. What is more interesting (to me personally) is the rhytho-melodic percussion work that serves as the hook of the song. The track is arguably the runt of the litter, but “Deep Base” fits snuggly into 160 bass that shows overtures to everything that has come before while not being any of them at the same time, where it lacks is in the mission statement that Dub-Stuy issued for this series.
In summation, what Dub-Stuy has accomplished with this release is an exciting first entry into a (hopefully long) series of “meet-ups” for artists and visionaries to present how dub and reggae has not only influenced their artistic visions but what dub music and reggae has given to the larger musical world. Like Perry, Tubby, Jammy, Scientist, Sherwood, DMZ, ZamZam, Seekers International, Boomarm Nation, and JahTari, Dub-Stuy showcases to the world the creatively liberating power that dub music has held for people the world over. We at TRUSIK are eager to see whom Dub-Stuy gathers around the table for the next release. But enough waxing poetical, just buy the damn record already!