Sub Dub

Original Masters: 1993-1995

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For fans of the experimental reggae-dub-Middle Eastern duo Sub Dub (Raz Mesinai and John Ward), the privately released EPs Babylon Unite and Dawa Zangpo were like minor Holy Grails, always to be sought and rarely to be found; Sub Tools was nothing but a cruel hoax, an EP that was rumored to have been recorded but had never been commercially released. Blessings be upon the heads of those at the Agriculture label who, in 2001, worked with Mesinai and Ward to produce this continuous-mix compilation of all three EPs, making these dark, funky, and exotic tracks available again to Sub Dub's small but adamant cult following. At this point in Sub Dub's career, the duo's sound consisted mainly of variations on a dark trip-hop and dub theme: "Monuments on Earth" leans to the reggae side with its slow, elephantine groove and one-drop rhythmic structure; "Dawa Zamgpo" is more of a rolling hip-hop affair, with jazzy acoustic bass, occasional turntable flourishes, and an ethnic vocal sample taken straight off an old African Head Charge album. "Babylon Unite" is a two-part instrumental steppers anthem that may or may not reference ancient Persia but definitely gets abstract and not especially fun in the second half. Overall, this is a fascinating and occasionally slightly disturbing excursion into the dark underbelly of dub, and is recommended without reservation to all fans of experimental dub and electronica.

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