19/09/2020: “Rainfall In Dub” by Versa

This one’s going for 100 quid on Discogs. It was only released in 2015 – but it makes sense, because it’s a very desirable plate!

Versa has been one of the most consistently brilliant dubstep producers on the ‘dubby’ side of the genre. This track encapsulates the potential of that sound. The space in between notes, in between frequencies. Everything has room to breathe. And breathe deeply.

The warm, earth shattering bassline is a melody in its own right. A smattering of swampy rhodes piano stabs echo throughout, gilding the weight with a light finesse.

The beat pulses along doggedly, scattering hi-hats and washed out snares in its wake.

A violin, vaguely oriental in nature, floats above the calm meditation in the latter half of the track. I think this song is a testament to the power of dubstep to move dancefloors and souls.

‘Rainfall In Dub’ was released in 2015 on the now legendary System records, backed with ‘Road To Righteousness’.

02/11/2019: “Blood Donza Dub” by Johnny Clarke

In a similar vain to the last post, it’s worth emphasising that there is nothing wrong with Johnny Clarke’s singing. Far from it.

The version here just lends itself well to an instrumental – it’s a heavy track, and this slower dub works so well.

Blood Donza and its dub came out in 1977 on Jaguar records in Jamaica.

05/10/2019: “Hunter” by Jah Shaka

Jah Shaka’s 3rd Commandments Of Dub album, Lion’s Share Of Dub (1984) is easily one of his best. The songs are all exquisite, melding catchy hooks to thunderous basslines while arranging a symphony of percussion and effects.

The album’s theme is a take on Selassie I’s title of “The Conquering Lion of Judah” within Rastafarianism.

“Hunter” is an echoey slice of vibes, with a twinkley, electronic piano sound providing the main riff. The bassline largely plays second fiddle to the hook, but naturally remains a central part of the song.

As with many dub songs, the percussion has a hefty part in the track, augmented with various reverb and delay effects.

The song has nailed the uncanny ability of certain dub and reggae tracks to create a bouncy, lively energy without losing the unflappable chilled out feeling.

24/08/2019: “Good Thing You Came Along” by Tapes

Jahtari artists make a particularly interesting type of digital dub music. It tends to be very lo-fi, slightly crusty, and usually containing an unusually deep low end.

The visuals and sonic aesthetic of the label is 80s arcade, with a strong dose of dub.

Tapes is one of the more well known producers on the label. Not necessarily dub songs, but often more reggae than not, Tapes makes oddly touching music considering the distorted, 8 bit nature.

“Good Thing You Came Along” sounds like Aphex Twin, if Aphex Twin loved reggae. The skank is slightly off-key, the vibraphone sound is dreamlike, the bass is massive. What more could you need?

The drums sound especially lo-fi, a cascade of hissy echos and broken snaps. It’s a strange take, but the bass supplies more than enough warmth to compensate.

The track was released in 2009 on Jahtari, and could really do with an extended version, to be honest!

07/08/2019: “Turn Back The Hands Of Time Version” by Job Gibbs

Joe Gibbs is one of the studio owners who can take serious credit for the evolution for reggae music. For one, Lee “Scratch” Perry was employed by him for a bit. But he also had The Professionals backing band, and with Errol Thompson at the controls, he produced many big hits.

This song is an early one in reggae chronology. Although it is a mainly instrumental song, there’s none of the heavy effects which characterise dub music.

There’s also a pleasingly crusty, raw sound, courtesy of late 60s Jamaican recording technology. When the bass goes low, the distortion adds a real warmth.

The horns are jubilant, more than making up for the lack of vocals.

The original version of this is by Tyrone Davis, but the reggae version is much more substantial in my opinion. There’s a popular reggae vocal version by Nicky Thomas.

02/08/2019: “Beautiful Dub” by Tappa Zukie

Although reggae has a reputation for being very slow and relaxing, it has usually tended to be dance music, played on huge soundsystems very loudly.

A song like this really brings out the natural movement in reggae, with an enthusiastic drum part, bouncing piano skank, and trademark thick bassline.

The horns and flute provide catchy melodic flourishes too, alongside a dubby little guitar which picks away with muted abandon.

His mastery of the mix is evident here too, emphasising different elements at different times while layering up a busy rhythm section.

Tappa Zukie is one of the big dub producers, achieving real success in the 1970s with his versions of roots tunes. Although he was good at toasting too, his main talent was always behind the controls.

“Beautiful Dub” was released in 1976 on the album Tappa Zukie In Dub, which was mainly a dub album of his vocal M.P.L.A. However, this is a dub of “Rastaman Come From Zion/ Rastaman Say” by Junior Ross, released in the same year.

28/07/2019: “Bun Down Babylon” by Kaiju

Kaiju are a pretty versatile duo within the dubstep genre, covering dark and spacious beats, heavy stompers, and dubbed out wonders like this.

Released in 2016 as a 10″ white label on Mala’s foundational Deep Medi Musik label, “Bun Down Babylon” is backed with “Wrong Tings”, a similar rootsy dubstep tune. 10″ records are a rarer format, but more common within the reggae scene, because acetate dubplates are often 10″.

The buoyant and extremely solid bassline pushes the song forward, and makes it a dubby tune right from the start. The drums are similarly dubbed out, adorning a dubstep halftime beat with a heavy selection of echoing percussion.

The melody is mainly in the bass, but the slightly mournful organ complements it perfectly, just as the joyful skank completes the reggae vibe.

And of course, no dubby dubstep track would be finished without the mandatory Jamaican vocal sample, but here there’s also a flitting melodica.

Dubplate special!