|Photo: Mat Baker|
Considering Aotearoa's long-standing affinity with reggae and dub, it was a natural move for Auckland's dance music factory Kog Transmissions to highlight the best of our dub producers on their latest release, Dub Combinations.
Calling in an expert in the field certainly worked on Kog house compilation, Algorhythm, thanks to the efforts and expertise of Subware's Joost Langeveld. For Dub Combinations, Kog's resident dub master, Andrew Manning, wasted no time in contacting 95bFM DJ Dubhead, who ranks as one of the counters finest dub and reggae authorities.
Dubhead's pedigree dates back to the beginning of his DJing days in 1983. "When I first started, I only played early '70s stuff like King Tubby,'' recalls Dubhead. "But, as I went along, I branched out and started incorporating hip-hop tracks and dancefloor and raggamuffin, At the time, no other DJs were playing dub. That's how I became Dubhead.''
Andrew Manning's roots lie in heavy metal and industrial music but his life changed when he first heard dub. "The first CD I listened to that made me go 'Wow!' was Pay It All Back. Volume Three," he remembers, citing Dub Syndicate and the On U Sound System as major influences.
''All I'd listened to up till then was heavy heavy metal. Once I started my metal thing, it just got heavier, until I got to Napalm Death and everybody else was commercial crap. Then, all of a sudden, right at the other end of the spectrum, I heard this spacey, soft music. It had hard drums and bass but, compared to heavy metal, it was so lush and amazing."
Dub Combination's line-up is about as eclectic as you can get, including tracks by artists not normally associated with dub, such as Epsilon Blue and 50 Hz, while Langeveld himself returns to his Unitone Hifi 'roots'. Patio, aka Involve Record's Bevan 'Aspen' Smith and Michael 'Jet Jaguar' Upton, provide a taster of their just- released collaborative album, Parallel Play.
Dubhead's own Sound Foundation also contribute, as do digital dub stalwarts International Observer and Salmonella Dub, with Andy Morton's Dub Mariner mix of Johnny.
''Even though this compilation is very studio and technology-driven, there's something about New Zealand and its environment which is reflected in the music, insists Manning.
"The dub thing in New Zealand is not a current trend. It's something that's grown slowly over the last 18 years as a mass, conscious thing. People are getting more and more aware of it. Ten years ago, you could say 'dub music' to people and they wouldn't know what you were talking about. But now, because of Massive Attack, they do know and that's reflected in the music that's made here.
''New Zealand also has its own dub sound," Manning argues. "We get all these influences from America, Australia and the UK and then we put our own twist on them. This music could only come from here.''