From drone to dubstep, the values and techniques of dub are more present than ever in the music we consume every day. Yet, for many, dub appears an impenetrable genre - the sort of thing we know we should be into, but we don't quite know where to start with. That's why we asked David Katz - renowned reggae historian, photographer and more - to write us the Beginner's Guide to Dub, with quotes from Bunny Lee, Niney the Observer, Glen Brown, Adrian Sherwood, Dennis Alcapone, Roy Cousins and more. We've also compiled an accompanying playlist on the last page of this article.
During the last 60 years, Jamaican popular music has rarely stood still, thriving on the innovations of a handful of committed practitioners that continually force the music into new directions. Although it would take time for foreigners to clock the music emanating from this Caribbean island, and even longer for them to comprehend it, there is ample proof that Jamaica has exercised a disproportionate influence on the musical practices of the outside world. And in recent times, dub has proven to be the most influential reggae sub-genre of all.
Without the dub invention pioneered by an elite coterie of Jamaican recording engineers and record producers, rap would never have become the world's leading form of popular culture; ambient, jungle, house, garage, grime and numerous other types of technologically-driven dance music probably would not have taken off. And there would surely be no such thing as dubstep, currently the focus of youth culture in so many different lands. Yet, who, exactly, is responsible for dub? What purpose did dub serve, and has the form remained static? What, in other words, is dub music all about?