What is this thing called dub? British dub master Neil Fraser, better known as Mad Professor, explains that, "Dub is like the first form of electronic music, where the engineer shapes and reshapes the sound you're listening to with special effects and sonic landscapes." While dub's roots are in Jamaica and reggae, it is now an international thing as evidenced by the Dubapalooza Tour coming to Arcata Saturday with Mad Professor from England, Italian electro-dub artist Daniele Gaudi and Twilight Circus Dub Sound System the nom de band of Canadian/Dutch dub engineer Ryan Moore.
Mad Professor credits Jamaican record engineer Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock with creating the original dub music form in the early '70s. At that time the music scene in Kingston, Jamaica, was dominated by rival sound systems that attracted crowds playing ska and reggae records, among them Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi, known for its sound rich with echo and reverb. On the side, Tubby worked for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle Records and was tasked with creating instrumental versions of hit reggae records pressed as B-sides and used by sound system DJs as a background for their chatter. Tubby went beyond removing the vocals, adding copious echo and reverb effects, stretching passages and boosting the bass for what were known as "versions" or dubplates, precursors to the modern remix.
Like Tubby, Mad Professor got his start as a recording technician. Born in Guyana, he'd moved to London as a teen and founded his Ariwa Sounds studio in 1979, recording and remixing reggae artists, and creating a successful series of mostly instrumental albums in his Dub Me Crazy series. He went on to collaborations with everyone from Lee Scratch Perry and Pato Banton to Massive Attack. With his latest release, The Roots of Dubstep, he reclaims the dub from the hottest form of electronica today.
While Gaudi got his start playing rock and reggae in Italy, he moved on to remixes and electronica and relocated to London in the '90s. He drew on musical sources literally all over the map, including reworking music from the late Pakistani star Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Dub Qawwali and remixing Bob Marley. Most recently he's been collaborating with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and electronica veteran The Orb in Metallic Spheres.
Back in the '90s, Rob Manzoli quit working as drummer for Dutch/British alt. rockers, the Legendary Pink Dots, and settled near Amsterdam. He set up a studio to produce records as Twilight Circus Dub Sound System, drawing heavily on old school Jamaican dub reggae, updating it for a new era.
As Manzoli told Tape-Op magazine in a recent interview, "It's quite amazing to think that dub, which started initially to provide Jamaica's sound system culture with instrumental versions for DJs to rap over and as a cost-effective way to fill up the B-side of a 45, evolved to become a hugely influential concept that ushered in radically new mixing approaches, changing modern music along the way."
Amazing indeed, as will be the sounds you'll hear from these three modern dub producers when they bring Dubapalooza to Arcata. Humboldt State's Associated Students present the Dubapalooza Tour with Gaudi, Mad Professor and Twilight Circus Dub Sound System on Saturday, Oct.15, at 8 p.m. in the Kate Buchanan Room. Tickets are $25, $10 for HSU students, available at humboldt.edu/aspresents or by calling 826-3928.