Revaluating DUB COLOSSUS – in a Town Call Addis (2008, Real World)

Part I: There’s a line in the Smashing Pumpkins song Zero that equates cleanliness with emptiness. This isn’t the intention, perhaps, but this is a useful connotation for this review:

Emptiness is loneliness, loneliness is cleanliness
Cleanliness is Godliness, and God is Empty just like me.

Thus, cleanliness may be interpreted as emptiness.

The high-point in dub as an artistic music form was arguably the 1970s. I am so convined by this I have a wager with myself that anything released by Island during the mid-1970s is gold: it has not yet led me astray. Dub is understood (by me) as a rather echoy, extremely-bass heavy, sparse music based building on the rhythmes of reggae, but with much studio trickery involved. It was, perhaps, the first genre in which the producer was the main artist in the final product. Or, perhaps, studio-trickery is the star here.

One of the best features was the great big dirty bass – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry intentionally recorded all the bass way in the red (if I remember this correctly), causing a throbbing overdrive, an excitement in an otherwise stoned out music that was about floating. And what a sound it is. Golly gee, what a sound.

Part II: I have an enduring fascination with what may be called ‘world music’. This awful, sickening, stomach-turning term is frequently placed in front of non-Western music that is sold to Westerners, and, in many ways, is sold as ‘authentic’ folk music from particular places. But one thing strings much of it together.

It’s sickening, saccharin, smooth sound. No boom, no overdrives, no in-the-reds, no personality of any sort whatsoever shall be left in the music in question.

So, how does Dub Colossus mix this traditionally dirty music of dub with the traditionally moisturised-beyond-belief sound of world music? Well. It essentially uses dub as a world music, and through this making it smooth.

The world music – folk sound – that is layered on top is Ethiopian music with a smattering of jazz. Some great sounding vocalist subdued by sounding bored and calling it in; some smooth sax and. See, dub, Ethiopian folk, jazz is a bloody exciting description. And there are very nice things about this music, but it’s so bloody smooth, so knowing, so composed that it’s incredibly dull.

This is music for middle class hippies, and only the middle class hippies that don’t smoke weed anymore.

Rating: cleanliness is emptiness. When will I bloody learn?