51 Toop

Replicant: On Dub

David Toop (b. 1949) is a writer, recording artist, curator, and collaborator, producing a wide variety of books and albums. "An important presence on the British experimental and improvised music scene", he curated the UK's largest ever exhibition of sound art in 2001, called Sonic Boom (355).

"Spreading out a song or a groove over a vast landscape of peaks and deep trenches, extending hooks and beats to vanishing point, dub created new maps of time, intangible sound sculptures, sacred sites, balm and shock for mind, body and spirit" (355). This is how Toop describes dub. He compares the artist to a sculture of a landscape which might have a profound effect on one's entire being. This passionate description might seem a bit farfetched, but music is a powerful thing with infinite forms.

Toop explains that by storing music on any device, it is decomposed. The music becomes a collection of bits but is not necessarily destroyed. It is the reinvention of a new 'version' or 'mix' that is the heart of dub. "Dubbing, at its very best, takes each bit and imbues it with new life, turning a rational order of musical sequences into an ocean of sensation" (355).

Dub originated within the home of reggae, Jamaica. More specifically Kingston, with a man named Osbourne Ruddock, a.k.a. King Tubby. As with many great discoveries, this was one of accident. Tubby stumbled across what he would term "implements of sound", "the thrill of stripping a vocal from its backing track and then manipulating the instrumental arrangement with techniques and effects: drop-out, extreme equalisation, long delay, short delay, space echo, reverb, flange, phase, noise gates, echo feedback, shotgun snare drums, rubber bass, zipping highs, cavernous lows. The effects are there for enhancement, but for a dubmaster they can displace time, shift the beat, heighten a mood, suspend a moment" (356). This movement would observe the birth of remix culture, different but evolving from the same idea, "shaping and reshaping its 'implements of sound' as if music was modelling clay rather than copyright property" (357). I'm still unsure of the line of distinction between these two forms.

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