Various Artists - King Size Dub Vol. 1

Disc 1 Disc 2

The first - and by far the best - installment of the long-running King Size Dub series is dedicated to British and British/Jamaican productions. At 27 tracks on two discs, it's quite a varied collection of amazingly high quality. Actually the only dull moments are two rather clumsy attempts at a fusion of dub and house by Got To Move and Zion Train. Highlights include tracks by the On-U posse (two each by Dub Syndicate and Revolutionary Dub Warriors and three Bim Sherman collaborations), Iration Steppas and The Disciples. I've hardly been keeping up with UK dub for almost ten years now, but I'm told that these tracks from the early and mid nineties catch the scene at its last creative peak. Could be true, given that most of the handful of newer tracks I've heard were quite by-the-numbers.

Listening to those two discs for the first time in years, what struck me was how dark, claustrophobic, cold and sometimes almost brutal a lot of it sounds in comparison to classic Jamaican dub. Often cluttered with eerie sound effects, the sonic space is incredibly dense and - especially on the steppers style tunes with their typical relentless four-to-the-floor drums - the beats and bass lines often come down with a brute, forceful ultra-heaviness. (Btw, these are all compliments in my book.) At times there's also a kind of haunted sadness contrasting quite effectively with the powerful rhythms. There's a unique quality to this sound that you don't even get from the bleakest and most militant Keith Hudson tracks or Lee Perry at his craziest and most paranoid. Actually, I'd say that a close comparison would be the best of current dubstep productions (i.e. the stuff that doesn't just sound like drum'n'bass played at the wrong speed).

Of course the use of digital equipment partly explains the difference between Jamaican and UK productions. But maybe the bleak vibe of UK dub owes as much to the fact that the tunes were recorded and/or mixed in the monochrome grey of English cities. To my ears this music sounds very urbane and even borderline-dystopian at times. Its eerieness and slightly creepy sense of alienation reminds me more of a band like Joy Division than any Jamaican dub. I don't know too much about the UK dub scene, but I think that maybe this similiarity in feel to a certain strain of post-punk has more to do with a specific sense of place rather than just some personal ties to punk and post-punk (Adrian Sherwood and some of the On-U Sound posse, Small Axe who evolved out of sub-Clash band The Ruts...). Dread music straight outta the grey heart of Babylon...


chemicalmat said...

thanks squaredancer! very good sound!
I have done a melodic minimal mix, he is posted on my blog

if you are interest...

if you listen it, please, could you write a com on my blog ?


if you are interested by some music or album, I can post my album list

square dancer said...

hi chemicalcat,

thanks a lot for that link to your mix. I'm looking forward to listening to it and I will also have a look at your blog. Don't think I'll have time before the weekend, but you will hear from me on your blog.

"if you are interested by some music or album, I can post my album list"

yes, please. That would be very interesting.

Cheers and take care!

chemicalmat said...

Ok very thks square dancer

Anonymous said...

What a great blog!
do you have Classics by Model 500 or 20 years of metroplex,by Juant atkins?


chemicalmat said...

Hi square dancer I just begun a new audio blog (blogspot)
there will soon have many album uploaded (electronic, rock, hip-hop and funk) and many artist like booka shade, chemical brothers, arctic monkeys, DJ shadow, outhud, cinematic orchestra, Kool and the gang...
great potential, I have around 1100 albums and EPs

So I request you if you can put a link to my blog in your link list
If you do it, I will put your blog's adress, in mine.

adress: http://www.music-response.blogspot.com/

Very thanks and good luck

PS: there no many album yet, but it will come...

square dancer said...

Hi anonymous, I don't have the Metroplex comp yet, but I'm considering to buy it. Probably wouldn't put it up though, because my only rule for this blog is that I only post records which are out of print or hard to get.

As for Model 500, unfortunately my vinyl copy is scratched (a victim of my last removal). Sorry, but I hope you'll drop by again anyway. I'm preparing some nice new posts. Take care!

chemicalmat said...

Thank you for coms on my blog and to have listened the mix
I'll remember!

I'm waiting for your future post

good luck

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