A beginner’s guide to reggae vanguard Glen Brown

The outsider quality of Glen Brown’s music may account for his relative obscurity.

Like the creations of his erstwhile peer, Yabby You, Brown’s distinctly leftfield productions were rooted in the Rastafari creed, but had a good deal more humour about them, and since he always had more ideas than ready finance, much of his output was issued in limited pressings of very small number, making most of his work very hard to find at its initial time of issue. Brown maintained a close working relationship with both King Tubby and Tommy McCook, which resulted in superb examples of instrumental roots reggae releases and sublime dub B-sides, and he had an innate feel for deejay music as well, nurturing some of the form’s best-known exponents. The most distinctive quality that defines his output is partly down to Brown’s deep appreciation for jazz music, and his actual involvement in the Jamaican jazz scene, which allowed a jazz sensibility to permeate almost all of his work, much of which made good use of expressive horn sections.

https://www.factmag.com/ Full article here

Versions, Dubs and Riddims: Dub and the Transient Dynamics of Jamaican Music

Thomas Vendryes Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France)

Abstract Dub emerged in Jamaica in the early 1970s, and, for a decade, it became a prolific and intensely innovative dimension of Jamaican popular music. Yet, during the mid1980s, while dub flourished at the international level, influencing popular music in general, the genre of dub declined in popularity in Jamaica. How could this musical innovation, so evidently associated with Jamaica, expand and develop internationally while at the same time decline in Jamaica itself? In this paper, I explore the modalities and evolution of Jamaican music production and consumption. Through a description of the Jamaican music industry context, with reference to individual artists’ paths and a summary of Jamaican dub production, I show that even as the Jamaican music milieu was highly favorable to the emergence of dub, dub proliferated as a genre only by developing ties to a diaspora of international audiences and practitioners.
Keywords: production studies, Jamaican popular music, history of dub, audio-engineer, riddim, performance mixing

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Paul “Groucho” Smykle

An interview from Red Bull Music academy daily with Paul “Groucho” Smykle. Click here for full article.

Very much a behind the scenes figure, Paul ‘Groucho’ Smykle mixed some of the most intense dub works to be released during the ’80s and ’90s. As one of Island Records’ in-house engineers, dubmaster Groucho etched his mark on prime works by Black Uhuru, Sly and Robbie and Ini Kamoze, and was probably the first mixer to subject African music to the extreme sonic textures of dub.

More than a scratch

He regards Bob Marley as a creature of his making. That was before Lee `Scratch’ Perry’s `Ark’ period, when he made spookily beautiful roots reggae. And no doubt he still would if he hadn’t burnt his studio down. Nick Coleman talks to the father of all producers

The independent – Nick Coleman 25 July 1997

Click here for full article.

What Dub Mixing Is & How To Do It

Great article from Sound On Sound By Andrea Terrano. Click here

There are lots of reasons to teach yourself the art of dub mixing. It’s fun, it’s creative, it puts your engineering skills centre stage – and it might even make you some money.

Dub started in Jamaica in the late ’60s with engineer Osbourne Ruddock, aka King Tubby. Either way, Jamaica has always been a sanctuary for this type of music, and hundreds of great dub records have been produced and mixed there. Jamaican producers have been pioneers in sound engineering, with an exceptional and daring capacity to innovate in sonic terms. They all shared a fresh approach towards the use of tape machines, mixers, effects and experimentation, never scared to pick up a screwdriver and open up the equipment to fix it or alter its sound.

Some of the most important producers in the history of dub mixing include the aforementioned Osbourne Ruddock, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Adrian Sherwood, Mad Professor, Jah Shaka, Augusto Pablo and Dennis Bovell. Next month, we’ll be talking in depth to Mad Professor, who is perhaps the leading dub mixer working today, but before that, let’s look at what dub mixing is and how you can do it in your studio.

Drum Drops – Dub Tips

Nice article on mixer layout, EFX tips and ethos from Drum Drops – Credits: Style Scott, Mike Pelanconi and Nick Coplowe. Click here for article.

Extract

A great many classic dubs were made on very basic tape machines, so to emulate this you can sub mix or group the individual channels so you can dub the whole drum kit simultaneously etc. Basically it means you need fewer fingers and less brain power, which helps…

Typical Layout:

1. Drums
2. Percussion
3. Bass
4. Guitar and piano chops
5. Organ shuffle or keyboard melodies
6. Vocals and harmonies or lead instrument melodies
7. FX or samples

Simplifying your mixer layout enables you to control all the elements of the mix really quickly and easily, giving you one hand on the arrangement and the other for the FX. It also allows you to EQ whole sections of your mix together (and sweep them). Your mixer layout is important, how you arrange your channels can help or hinder the spontaneity of your dub.

Learn the track; make a mental note of the time of any significant melody or vocal hooks and remember all good dubs have to have a great intro, a memorable bass line, a hypnotizing beat, a signature sound or melody hook and some well timed FX and arrangement drop-downs. Never forget – SPACE IS KING!!!

Wise words from Mad Professor

Dub puts the Engineer’s Skills Center Stage

“Before dub, as the engineer, you had to ‘not be seen and not be heard’, as the proverb goes! Because if you had an identity on a track, you were not fulfilling what an engineer was supposed to do, which was basically to be invisible. You were already invisible, being on the other side of the board, but you were also supposed to be invisible in a sonic way. We reversed that with dub music. From the point where you heard a drum roll, you could go ‘Yeah, that sounds like Erryl Thompson recorded that roll!’”

Home-brew analogue equipment has always been at the heart of the dub sound

…and Mad Professor clearly feels that the sonic identity dub mixers worked so hard to establish is threatened by the rise of digital gear. “We spent years developing an identity, where you could hear exactly who’d done what. The problem with the digital format is that the more a producer leans on it, the less of his identity is stamped on the record. The digital thing takes that away. 

Anything you do on your digital system, he can do it as well

According to Mad Professor, “The difference between the real dub and the digital euro dub, made on a computer, is that the real dub is built on songs. When you hear a good dub album from the ’70s by Tubby or Perry, the tracks are built on songs with proper constructions. Original melodies. A lot of the new guys don’t build on good a song, or at least not a very good song, so it doesn’t take you anywhere. It’s a marriage between music and technology.”

We always have our effects hooked up

The first stereo auxiliary is always my reverb, a Lexicon 480l. It’s a quad-input reverb, one of the most developed reverb units ever, so we could have two stereo auxiliaries to that one. That’s always on and comes back into two stereo splits. Next, we got our delay. I’ve always used the Roland SD3000, I think that’s one of the best delays ever built. A magic delay. I also use MXR phasers, quite a collector’s thing — I’ve got them hooked up to the desk as well.”

“Truth is, after having made several hundreds of records, if you do everything one way, you’d soon have to stop. It’s all challenging and it’s a challenge to take everything in its own context and to have a different approach. “You have to approach each project in a different way. You can’t just say ‘I always do this, so I’ll just do it again.’ I don’t know what other people do and as for me, I just do what I feel for in the moment. It’s like what you want to eat: some days you want curry, some days something else. Sometimes I want a long echo, sometimes I want a short one.”