Friday, March 19, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - March 17/10

At the end of the day, dub soldiers on. Who better to give the marching orders than Jahtari Rhythm Force.

It seems that most dub DJs have adopted dubstep as part of their repertoire. It's hard to ignore a musical phenomenon with 'dub' in the title if you like your bass big. To be honest, after a few years, I'm losing interest in it. I'll still play a wobbled bass maybe once every couple of weeks, but mere oscillations ususally don't add up to anything great compositionally. Since dub starts from the distillation of a song, it retains enough solid fundamentals to remain interesting. I hope that this thread runs through the last half hour of each edition of the Abstract Index - I'll always balance out wild production with more conventionally musical rhythms (sweet and sour dub?). Being the proud owner of a KAOSS pad, I can see how it's easy to get carried away with its X/Y axis-based input method, to say nothing of the billions of plug-ins (dub-ins?) floating around online. Too often, dubstep is hollow at its core in a way that its clear predecessor digidub had only hinted at - a victory of technology over music. On the one hand, there is suspenseful empty space in the music, but so often its accompanying release consists of hyper-aggressive sounds which are more annoying than annihilating. Fortunately, dubstep tends to breed artists who go on to push the limits of syncopated minimalism, such as Shackleton, whose hybrid grooves kicked off this week's show.

And then there are the old skool dub aficionados, to which Jahtari belongs. In his (their?) case, the old school is of the 8-bit blurps and bleeps aesthetic which nonetheless infuses actual songwriting to make memorable music. The Jahtari website contains a manifesto outlining the sonic springboard of 'digital laptop reggae' thusly: "We try to pick up the trail of Dub at its most inventive times, before a lot of its biggest achievements got almost forgotten. Dub is the continual background and main reference point of all our releases, its spirit always in the center! Jahtari is NOT about emulating old classics with new technology but about DOING SOMETHING TO DUB THAT HASN'T or couldn't BEEN DONE BEFORE! But Dub and the SOUL of it always comes first. Unlike Electronica, where technology is the music itself. Dub, then technology.". Their music hits a sweet spot of technology, tradition and songcraft.

Their forthcoming release Jahtarian Dubbers Vol. 2 shows just how diverse that approach can be. It is resolutely digital, but quite varied in approach. Echoes of hip hop, broken beat and techno always crop up, partly due to the sonic vocabulary, but the Jamaican lineage is clear. This music is not afraid to wear its history on its sleeve, and is original, subtle and effective. And it's not unfunny....


mountains of ashes - shackleton (perlon)
burning love breakdown - peter brown (tk)
gol e aftab gardoon - noosh afarin (finders keepers)
for the love of money - disco dub band (luv n haight)
combination - jali bakary konteh (akwaaba)
wondigal - alpha yaya diallo (jericho beach)
sister mary lucy - d.o. misiani & shirati jazz (earthworks)
firsteppa - jean paul dub (no label)
heavy as stone - mark pritchard (dub plate records)
whatyagonnado - jacob korn (do right)
fiesta - cobblestone jazz (k7)
throat pt. 1 - little women (aum fidelity)
the thing and i - tommy babin's benzene (drip audio)
no abhor - dawn of midi (accretions)
shadows - joe harriott (redial)
dancehall style - little john (17 north parade/vp)
dub is a moment in space - wayne smith/prince jammy (pressure sounds)
complete control - creation rockers (echo beach)
the youth - ondubground vs. horace andy (no label)
my legs my arms my mind & my brain - brain damage feat black sifichi (jarring effects)
we will destroy your planet - jahtari rhythm force (jahtari)
heart made of stone - the viceroys (mango)
gonna be alright - dubmatix feat prince blanco (7 arts)

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