Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Now this commence up the night...

Every few months I go to my favorite passage in Lloyd Bradley's Bass Culture and read Dennis Alcapone's description of King Tubby's soundsystem:

"King Tubby had a sound system that I never hear nothing like it in my whole life.  Sound systems, the big ones, was always exciting, but when Tubby came on the scene it was extraordinary.  Most of these dances we talking about were outdoor things, where you always have the big speaker boxes, but Tubby had him steel horns for the treble and he put them up in the trees so it's like the sound is coming from all over. When the night was warm, the breeze is blowing and the music's playing, it's truly something to behold. King Tubby's sound system was definitely magic.

"They had reverb on that sound system, no other sound system had reverb at the time--Tubby was the one who introduce it. Listen to his bass speakers and it's pure melody coming through. His bass was so round and fat that every singer sound wonderful, every song sound rich. Even if something hadn't been record so well it would still sound good on King Tubby's system. And the echo was another thing, nobody else had that, either. When U-Roy used to take up the mic to start his session and say, "Now commence up the night...night...night...night..."

I love reading this passage because dub music changed my life and Dennis describes my version of heaven. Dub music changed my whole concept of sound and it changed the way I listen to music. 

It is because I feel this deep affinity for space, reverb, and attention to sound that I love Basic Channel so much. This Berlin duo, in the early 90's, took Detroit Techno and mixed it inna dub style. The difference between them and others who claimed they'd been influenced by dub was that you could hear that dub music changed their lives. This is why they started their own mastering studio to produce the highest quality vinyl: because that's what Tubby would do. 

Though Basic Channel's output only amounted to a few 12" releases and exactly one CD's worth of material, they continue on in various forms. They have taken it upon themselves to make quality reissues of nearly all of the releases from Bronx-based reggae label Wackie's;  their Main Street label puts out many house music releases; and then there are their own recordings as Rhythm & Sound on their Burial Mix label. As Rhythm & Sound they have moved closer to straight roots reggae and dub, coming out with collaborations with various chatters (including legends like Cornell Campbell) on the 10" vinyl format. In 2003, they simultaneously released the A's and B's from these recordings on two different CDs--With the Artists and The Versions. The names are pretty self-explanatory. I've gravitated toward the dubs, naturally. Here is just a taste.
Rhythm & Sound-King Version
Ripped at 256k for optimal roundness.

1 comment:

William said...

this makes me think it would be dope if they remixed of 'No Ordinary Love' by Sade