I’ve loved reggae and dub more than any other musics since first raiding my Parisian cousin’s tapes at the age of 14.  What I found in his banlieue bedroom spiritualized me, politicized me, and made me a lifelong fan of adventurous and committed sounds. My love has never waned in the slightest. If anything, it pounds louder and more insistently in my world now, than ever before.

As boss of BSI Records, I strived to provide a platform for various strands of future-past dubwise sound to converge, diverge, and travel in the world. As a member of agit-dub band Systemwide, our music represents a tradition of ‘outsider dub’ that reaches back to the mid-seventies. In these streams, the desire to engage with and create “dub” was not always moored to reggae, seldom if ever grounded in Rastafari, and not necessarily aware of the complexities of life in Jamaica, or of the competing narratives around the origins of reggae itself.

The still-vexing (yet tired) question “what is dub” is best answered for me by the clichéd (yet still profound), “who feels it knows it.”  In these dubwise tracks from years gone by, it may be the character of a particular sound, how that sound is deployed, or a concern for space as much as any overtly dubby rhythm.  Though it’s the ‘heartbeat’ that keeps me coming back to even the most experimental dub-not-dub tracks.  I tried to avoid tunes by “real” reggae musicians (but I failed in at least one instance, unable to resist Sly & Robbie with Grace Jones,) instead going for earnest music by punks and gearheads that seemed (to my ears, anyway) to want to connect to reggae, but also respected it too much to simply ape its outward forms.

This is a mix that I’ve had in mind for years, but might never have made if not for gentle prodding from Joel Schalit.  Thanks for the motivation, akhee. Listening to these songs now I’m struck by how anachronistic they sound despite their immediacy, how genuinely “experimental” most of them sound despite their age.  Is this what a generation gap sounds like?  Will anyone under 30 find this music listenable? Under 20?

No grids, no quantizing, very little polish.  But lots of ideas, lots of heart and lots of bass.  Mixed live from vinyl, I give you DubNotDub!

The London Underground: Fall In

D and V: Conscious (Pilot)

Wolfgang Press: Fire Eater

Chic: Why (Instrumental)

Will Powers: Adventures in Success (Dub Copy)

PIL: Socialist

23 Skidoo: Coup (Version)

Grace Jones: Nipple To The Bottle (Dub)

Ruts DC vs. Mad Professor: Militant Dub

The Clash: The Magnificent Dance

Dif Juz: Heset

The Slits: Earthbeat / Earthdub

Vivien Goldman: Private Armies

The Pop Group: 3:38

A Certain Ratio: Flight

Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebzeit, Jah Wobble: How Much Are They?

Colourbox: Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse

OMD: Junk Culture

Soft Cell: Tainted Dub

Trisomie 21: There’s Something Strange Tonight


Ezra Ereckson photograph courtesy of Systemwide