Various Artists

Space Is King: From Dub to Dubstep

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This is a great idea for a compilation series: following in the successful shoes of Echo Beach's King Size Dub series, Space Is King intends to chart the musical development that has led from traditional reggae-based dub and electro-dub up to modern dubstep, and this first installment gets off to a good start. It opens a little bit weakly, with a fairly pedestrian, Adrian Sherwood remix of "Rise." On the other hand, Sherwood's take on "Jah Dub" evidences more of the sonic experimentalism that has always been Sherwood's hallmark: tons of dark, open space, an elephantine groove, and shards and swatches of vintage reggae sounds emerging from the postmodern murk. Brilliant. The rest of the program lives up to that high standard. Some of this material will be familiar to long-term fans of electro-dub: Big Youth's "Waterhouse Rock," pop-reggae mainstay "Echo Beach," the Max Romeo classic "Chase the Devil" (Lee "Scratch" Perry's appropriation of which is presented here, in lurching dubstep style) -- all of these popular favorites. And the kitsch classic "Kung Fu Fighting" was once given an entire album's worth of remixes in a similar vein -- the Rob Smith remix offered here seems to have been lifted from that release. As it turns out, it's the dubsteppier tracks that draw and hold the attention most effectively, though the jungly and chopped-up remix of "Marijuana Dreams" is a solid winner as well.

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