Dub techno is a subgenre of techno music that incorporates aspects of dub music – such as minimal, delay-heavy production and powerful bass – as its main style.
Origin of Dub Techno.
When German techno producers Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus joined forces to establish the duo Basic Channel, in the early 1990s, they birthed this new subgenre. Oswald and Ernestus first released dub techno music under their own label, Chain Reaction. Since Chain Reaction still created other genres of music besides this deep “dubby” style, the two subsequently came up with the idea for Rhythm & Sound, a label that would only release dub techno and dub reggae.
When Rhythm & Sound performed their own interpretations of the Jamaican sound system culture – the sacred source from which original dub sprang – they drew inspiration directly from the genre’s foundations. The music created by this label tried to capture the psychedelic, hazy, stoned sensations of traditional Rastafarian music from Jamaica’s heartland. In addition to Chain Reaction and Rhythm & Sound’s efforts, the German label Mille Plateaux helped pioneer this subgenre by taking the same dub techno that Basic Channel was promoting and giving it a much more melodic spin.
How Dub Techno got to the United States.
Dub techno, which originated in Europe, eventually made it to the United States when Rod Modell launched his DeepChord project in Michigan. DeepChord is an American take on this strange, sci-fi-sounding style. At first, the genre – Ambient music – used to characterize dub techno, seems diametrically opposed, as dub is a music form that evolved from reggae in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Dub techno involves modifying existing recordings, usually by delaying chords and manipulating the echo and reverb effects. This ‘dubbing’ method creates a new version or ‘double’ of the sampled song after copying the audio from one medium to another, hence the genre name.
Dub music emphasizes the drums and bass while layering other sounds and echoes, with the goal of drawing attention to the shape, depth, and spacing of the soundscape. This may create a very psychedelic feeling, portraying a lucid, dreamy state of being, with disturbing and apocalyptic overtones. When combined with techno, the result is closely related to ambient music, in that both genres’ music act as “background music” on purpose; it never tries to wander into unique territory, since its sole intent is to be “placid, unquestioning,” and “deeply comforting”. Every element in the mix is given breathing space, and as a result, it takes on an organic feel.
Notable artists of this genre include the Greek electronic producer Fluxion, real name Konstantinos Soublis, who has been making deep dub music for a while now. He has released EPs, LPs, and even full-length albums for several record companies, including Basic Channel’s own Chain Reaction. After establishing Vibrant Music in 1999, he even created his own music label, publishing both tracks by himself and those of other musicians. Stephen Hitchell, a resident of Chicago (who also goes by the aliases Intrusion, Phase90, Radius, and others) is one half of Echospace, a project he worked on with the aforementioned Detroit dub techno icon Rod Modell.
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