This week, we hand over the controls for a 'Bass Weight' Special. And there's no one better than our very own Original Gidman. Over the course of the last 2 years, Gids has been at the very forefront of Dusk Dubs, nothing gets past him, and has affectionately become to be known as the Oracle. He lives and breathes this stuff. His tastes are widespread, but this particular bass weight arena is one that we all love. It's difficult to sum up what Gids means to the team, to the Dusk Dubs ethos in general and even further afield. Just from what you see on face value surpasses anything we could ever ask for, but behind the scenes, he is a grafter, a mentor, a walking encylopedea of sound, and a constant steady noise for the rest of us when all hell breaks loose. Top man, and top selections as always, we proudly present, our own Original Gidman.
Here are some words from the man himself....
It’s great to be back, and there’s nothing I like more than digging through my vinyl vaults inspired by a producer, a label, a vibe, a movement and this time is no exception. Taking my lead from the phrase which would appear on the infamous club ‘DMZ’ flyers – “come meditate on bass weight”, which you would see plastered to lamp posts and advertising boards throughout South London in 2005 and beyond. At this time DMZ were considered to be one of the most influential “Dubstep” nights along with FWD – Yep that’s right I used that commonly derided term ‘Dubstep’…. but PLEASE, don’t be put off.
For me, out of this ‘Dubstep’ scene came the most refreshing, experimental and emotionally charged bass heavy rhythms, coupled with neck snapping beats I had heard in a long time, and it is this ‘Bass-Weighted’ influence that I am representing today – beats that hit you like a meditative metronome.
Of course this is no way an attempt to provide some kind of comprehensive list, but to offer my own personal favourites from that period that have maintained their impact throughout the last ten years, along with a few earlier selections that influenced that vibe. To attempt to represent through the Dusk Dubs looking glass, the different vibes and styles which grew and developed, and to re-address the idea that “Dubstep” was simply spotty young kids from South London creating disposable ‘wobble bass’ or ‘WUB’ as some would say……
Welcome to my world of ‘Dusk Dubs Bass Weight’…. (N.B. If you can, please listen on a decent set of headphones or with a good amp and sub - it’s essential)
You can find him here:
1) Jah Shaka – Verse 1 – Produced by Jah Shaka aka The Zulu Warrior, this track is taken from the 1982 ‘Commandments Of Dub’ LP, the first of a series of ten (highly recommended) all released under his own label Jah Shaka Music. Sample spotters will recognise the classic ‘quack/squeek’ sound at the beginning of the track which has been sample by classic jungle riddims such as XLR8 - Dub Plate (Simply Rolling) (1993), Good, 2Bad & Hugly - Got To Release. (1993) Renegade – Terrorist (1994) and numerous Congo Natty / X Project tunes.
2) Scientist – Seconds Away – Featured on his classic 1980 ‘Heavyweight Dub Champion’ album on Greensleeves. Produced at Channel One Recording Studio and mixed a King Tubby's Studio…. the dub heritage is clearly on show and one can almost physically feel those trademark Scientist "into-oblivion" echo effects as the protégé of King Tubby takes Barrington Levy vocals from ‘Many Changes in Life’ and drops them through his echo chamber, backed by the amazing riddims of his studio players, the Roots Radics Band.
3) Tippa Irie – Meaning Of Dub – This explanation of Dub can be found on the ‘Meaning Of Dub’ compilation on Stones Throw Records which was released last year. Produced by the Dub Club aka Tom Chasteen – the legendary Los Angeles club promotor and producer, and featuring the UK’s own, Brixton born Tippa Irie, the lyrics offer up an explanation of Dub and why we love it…. As Tippa sings in a call & response fashion … “What do we love… that sweet reggae music called dub”.
4) King Tubby – King Tubby The Ruler – Taken from the infamous ‘King Tubby's Studio Vs Channel One In Dub’ which was produced in the 1970’s (exact date unknown). The album was produced by Bunny Lee and mixed by King Tubby, Scientist and Crucial Bunny. The track takes Clarence Reid’s
1969 classic ‘Nobody but You Babe’ and gives it the Tubby treatment, twisting it through his 12-channel, custom-built MCI mixing desk. EQing it with his own custom built parametric EQ … known locally as the "big knob" – this dial would allow Tubby to introduce a dramatic narrowing sweep of any signal, such as the horns etc, until the sound disappeared into a thin squeal……. Classic.
5) Smith & Mighty – Brain Scan – Unbelievably, first released back in 1985 on demo by Rob Smith, together with writing/production partners Ray Mighty and Peter D Rose and later released by the Japanese label Angel's Egg records in 2003, this amazing Bristol production has all the elements, hip hop, dub reggae all twisted through there industrial echo chamber, particularly reminiscent of the programming you would later hear in rave and jungle productions of the early nineties. What I love about this track is that bouncing bass tone, some say reminiscent or influenced by the electro era, which contributes to that twisting rhythm and vibe which I believe to be a major influence in the bass weight ethos…in fact the connection comes full circle, as Rob Smith would later produce for seminal dubstep labels such as Bristol’s Punch Drunk and Tectonic labels between 2007 and 2009.
6) Koncrete Roots – Warehouse Dub – Taken from the 2014 self-released album ‘Dub ina Midlands’ by one man outfit Koncrete Roots aka Thomas Kenney from Leicestershire, England. His style has been described as a deeply rooted dub sound with a modern day steppa twist and this is clearly apparent in ‘Warehouse Dub’ . Its opens with a sample explaining the multi-cultural nature of reggae/dub, a steppers rhythm breaks out including echoed vocals, a skanky breakdown, followed by a mutated Sleng Teng riddim. This is a clear example of how dubstep has developed and incorporated dub/reggae in a contemporary UK way and so continues to do so…..
7) Rhythm & Sound featuring Tikiman – What A Mistry– Released in 1997 on Basic Channel’s sub label Burial Mix Records by the legendary Rhythm & Sound outfit aka Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald. It is in no doubt how influential and ahead of the game the Basic Channel sound was including the run of 10 inches via Burial Mix which emphasized the dub-reggae aesthetic within a techno framework. This sound would certainly go on to influence the deeper side of dubstep and parallels can be drawn, particularly from later labels such as Mala’s Deep Medi Musik.
8) Quest – Smooth Skin – It is a Deep Medi Musik release we go to next. Released in 2010 from Antisocial collective member Quest aka Darren Henry. This track at the time was a change in BPM for Mala’s imprint, instead of the usual 140bpm ‘Smooth Skin’ was a slower 94bpm bathed in glorious synth washes over constantly shuffling percussion….. followed by a weighty dose of sub-bass about half way through…. Love this.
9) Jack Sparrow – Good Old Days – Hailing from Leeds in the UK, Ryan Gath aka Jack Sparrow also released this on Mala’s Deep Medi Musik. imprint in 2012. Involved in the dubstep scene since 2006 with releases on labels such as Contagious, Earwax and Tectonic, he moves away from his usual darker, heavier soundsystem productions and instead creates a more laidback, meditative and blissful vibe for ‘Good Old Days’. Samples of oldschool jazz float blissfully over a classic “Bass Weight” riddim – one for the smokers….
10) LV – CCTV (Featuring Dandelion) – Released on Kode9’s immensely successful Hyperdub label back in 2008, featuring soundsystem vocalist Dandelion. LV combines the organic warmth of reggae and horns, with squelching analogue synths over a 2 step rhythm, all resulting in a rolling dread-filled paranoid atmosphere – Stunning…. Check the lyrics….
11) V.I.V.E.K. – Feel It – One of my favourite producers from this era, V.I.V.E.K. aka Vivek Sharda out of London released this Double Pack 12” on Deep Medi Musik in 2010. As the sample throughout states, this track is all about ‘Frequencies’ …”Many soundsytem play very loud bass, but we would like to play very deep that people can still stand in front of the speaker… it doesn’t hurt… People do respond to that bottom frequency.” What follows is a ‘Bass Weight’ classic, with one of the most chest thumping sub sonic bass and infectious rolling Tablas combinations I’ve ever heard. Should come with a Government Bass Warning !!
12) Fat Freddys Drop – Cays Crays (Digital Mystikz Version) - As you might have guessed from my previous volumes, I’m a hug fan of Fat Freddys Drop aka the "Seven Headed Soul Monster". So back in October 2006 when the band released the ‘Dub Versions’ 12Inch, featuring remixes by Blood & Fire vs. Deep Sounds, Kalbata and of course this track, it was a buy on sight purchase and still is to this day. Remixed by Mala under his and Coki’s alias ‘Digital Mystikz’, this version was an anthem back in the day in all the best dubstep clubs and of course in particular at DMZ. With those soulful vocals by Joe Dukie, echoed and twisted and combined with Mala’s additional melodica instrumentation, this version is pure vibes and is one of only a few dubstep tunes that offers the chance for a good ol’ sing-a-long…. Vibes !!
13) Pinch – Get Up feat Yolanda (LV Disco Remix) – Released on Pinch’s Bristol based Tectonic label back in 2009. This remix by LV can only be found on the CD release, and turns what was already an anthem into a stunning “bass-weight” stepper. Featuring the glorious vocal talents of Yolanda Quartey, LV seem to amplify every soulful ounce of the original…. very reminiscent of Grace Jones’ Compass Point productions by the legends Sly & Robbie…..
14) Silkie – Jazz Dub – Although released on a 12” Double Pack in 2013 on Deep Medi Musik, this track along with the other 5 productions were apparently rescued from Solomon Rose aka Silkie’s computer hard drive (The exact date of production never released) and for that, I’m very thankful.
As a member of the Anti Social Collective alongside Quest, Harry Craze, Razor Rekta , Jay 5ive and later on Mizz Beats , Silkie has consistently pushed at those boundaries of the dubstep genre. From the early days and his introduction to the club FWD around 2002, he has been instrumental in developing the then new infused electronica called ‘Forward Music’. Promoting the Anti Social mantra of pushing boundaries and experimentation, the track ‘Jazz Dub’ takes a standard jazz lick along side a 4/4 drum pattern and creates a weighty meditative fusion – a style of which like so many of my favourite dubstep productions foster… “less is definitely more”.
15) Grace Jones – Love You To Life (Mala /Digital Mystikz Remix) – Originally released as a very limited Record Store Day special back in 2010 on the Wall Of Sound label, it got repressed due to high demand. At the time it was Digital Mystikz first release in two years and what a release it was. Taking on the legend that is Grace Jones and putting her through the South London ‘DMZ’ echo chamber, Mala builds a skanking rhythm which rides a serious weighty bassline while adding elements, until around half way he drops the rhythm track to leave Jones’s glorious vocal on top of that bass…. “Calling All The Guards” – Watch ya subs on this one…..
16) Skream – Dutch Flowers – Released in October 2006, this b-side featured on Skream’s classic “Tapped/Dutch Flowers” 12” and was one of two releases that preceded his first long-player for Tempa Recordings – “Skream!”. Mastered at the legendary ‘Transition Mastering’ Studios in South East London, this ‘1 note’.. ska infused skank-out featuring a balearic guitar sample, lush Detroit synth pads, a sub bass to die for and of course those rousing reggae horns all make this in to a perfect summer stepper….
17) Loefah – Root – Finally, I end with one of the legends and bass pioneers of the “bass-weight” scene. Loefah along with Mala and Coki – not only run the DMZ club night but released classic 12’s from that period under the DMZ record label. Back in 2005, Root was DMZ’s 6th release and is a perfect example of Loefah’s experimentation with the darker side of bass science. Beginning with a classic sample of Sir Coxsone Dodd, the owner of Jamaica’s legendary Studio One, telling how he came up with the idea to release his own records, with additional samples of Alton Ellis stating “Not For Publication" and "Dubplate" ….. the track develops over neck-snapping beats until an earth shattering modulating bassline drops….. as one review at the time stated “Not to be listened too whilst operating heavy machinery!”…..