From Cyprus comes news of Dubophonic, a web-based label that offers freely downloadable Creative Commons licensed music in different variations on dub. To date Dubophonic has released six dub EPs/albums beginning in June 2013 with ‘Creation’ from Russian electronic dub experimenter Dub I. This initial release is a pretty unusual combination of electronic sounds and dub bass rhythms with vocal snatches here and there; it doesn’t have an immediate parallel with other performers or producers right now.
The second label release – ‘Guetto Roots of Dub vol 1’, from Argentina’s Negritage – offers a lighter and gentler take on dub which is all the more effective for its restraint. Next up was ‘Fils d’Abraham’ from French duo Djirbil and Faida, otherwise known as Zion Dirty Sound. This is a strong and highly eclectic mix of African, Latin and French influences, most clearly evident in the title track. On other tracks, particularly ‘Bye Bye Babylon’, the reggae inspiration is much stronger. The next Dubophonic release – ‘Dred Reggae’ by Cypress producer Med Dred (August 2013) – is a great 6-track EP in a retro style, opening with ‘Jahnoy’, an 80s-inspired dancehall intro giving way to classic-era echoing dub and even a melodica happily asserting itself. It continues with some fine reggae tunes and clear-cut production in a style that anyone who knows the reggae tradition will recognize, and enjoy. The ‘Mad Sunday EP’ brings us eight versions around the basic track from Mexico’s Yasser Serano (aka Mexican Stepper). This is surely the most appropriate pseudonym ever, given that the base track is indeed a steppers rhythm from Mexico, followed up with different dubs and mixes including an intriguing version courtesy of Mr Mefistou which manages to incorporate parts of an anti-imperialist speech from the Bolivian president.
The most recent release from Dubophonic is the Red Star Martyrs’ ‘I & I’ EP. The product of Birmingham musician and producer Stanley Wood, the politically-informed Red Star Martyrs are a collaborative outfit that on this release generate two tracks – ‘Insurrection’ and ‘Independence’ – that are treated to different versions (one-drop, steppers, vocal dub…) almost as a tutorial in reggae sub-genres. Excellent.
The label and its owner Dub Thomas are doing an interesting and valuable thing here in not only making this adventurous cross-cultural reggae music available, but in doing so for free. Here is the link to the Dubophonic site where you can learn more and also download all the music reviewed here; as always, reggaemusic.org.uk does not accept any responsibility for the content of external sites or any downloads from them.