Record Review: Various Artists – Strictly Analog Dub (2012)

The ultimate vintage dub compilation celebrating hands-on, real-time dub experimentation on analogue gear

Genre: Dub

Region: Leiden, the Netherlands

Artists’ Website: Dubbhism

Label: Dubbhism Netlabel

Dubbhism is a largely influential netlabel that is at least passionate about dub music, particularly the more analog and experimental side of it. The new release is a massive compilation of ten dub tracks and you can download it for free here.

In spite of the seemingly militant title of the compilation which is marketed as ‘strictly analog’, the label provides a  quite praiseworthy explanation: “Wait! We’re not in this holy war, saying that analog studio equipment is  better  than digital. It’s just that for dub music Roland Space Echothere can be some interesting advantages. Dub music is – among other things – about spontaneous sound creation, and also about pushing the equipment to it’s limits or even beyond:  abusing  it. The problem with computers and digital dub gear is that you can’t really abuse it. Digital boxes just freeze or give you a  blue screen of death  if you push really hard. Boring.. that’s why analog and dub are such a good match.”

Any dub enthusiast will immediately recognize that there are some superb recordings here. While the compilation focuses on roots reggae and vintage dubs, there are also some serious departures – most notably in the oscillating, cyclic ambient sounds of the Positronics’ 10 minute long experimental epic named ‘Yeti Dub’. The unifying theme here is the underground basement atmosphere of relentless meditative experimentation with analog dubbing equipment. Dubbhism manage to harvest sounds that you hardly hear elsewhere and put them all in one meaningful release. It is maybe one of the most crucial dub releases in recent times.

All tracks are well above average and some are really exceptional. The most vocal example is album’s opener ‘Living Hard’ which a Portuguese collaboration between Delmighty Sounds and the Lisbon Dub Collective. Featuring Roberto Sanchez on chanting, this Dubbhism Analognumber is the epitome of heartfelt soulful roots reggae with tons of tasteful vintage dub effects coming out of analog equipment. The result is inspiring, mind-travelling, emotive roots dub music.

Spring Reverb Museum’s ‘Shades’ is a more loosely-arranged experimental composition in the downtempo direction slightly reminding the Italian 8-bit laptop dubsters Jambassa. Negritage from Argentina step on the commanding foundation roots riddim of ‘None A Jah Jah Children’ of legendary Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus. With a ‘third world’ four track analogue mixer and basic delay and reverb effects they pay homage to the Jamaican originators. In fact they are psyched for dub music: “Dubwise means everything for us like today… we live dubwise we dream dubwise.”

Uus Energia from Talinn, Estonia are a live dub band and they offer a richly-instrumented dub with heavy effects. Bassbully’s ‘Liminal Dub’ features the heaviest bass but also a distinctively vintage UK sound, not unlike Mad Professor’s early experiments (albeit with deeper bass and prolonged effects).

Altogether, this is a stunning release of quality analogue dub music. It is a passionate, romantic and playful music for evasive situations. Most of all Dubbhism showed with this set that digital workstations and cutting-edge technologies do not necessarily ensure improved music production. On the contrary, the ‘Strictly Analog Dub’ compilation proves that analogue gear and spontaneous, hands-on, real-time sound manipulation are not only things of the past but also a welcoming platform for dubheads to channel their creative forces now and in the future. The result is imperfect, gritty but also more sweaty and authentic. The analog dub method should be seriously considered in any aspiring dub laboratories worldwide.

Uus Energia

Bottom line is that this set is another gem in the burgeoning vintage dub scene of today – dub was never more diverse, developing simultaneously to all directions from ethno-dub to experimental and dub-injected bass music in general.


Explore dub realms in Freegan Kolektiva:

  1. Dubmonger – Experiments In Dub (2012, self-released)
  2. Rodja – Immanence (2012, mime netlabel)
  3. Goli & Ashburner / RSD / Alpha Steppa – Get Up (2011, Steppas Records)
  4. Full Dub – Potentiodub EP  (2012, ODG Productions)

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