Rhythm & Sound

When Jamaican producers discovered dub while messing about with reggae rhythms in the mid-'70s, they tapped into something much deeper. Just ask anyone who's sat down with a good dub record and they'll tell you: It's an aural experience that borders on the hallucinatory. Dub's throbbing basslines, deep echo, and elongated samples that trail off into the distance can make you feel as if you're inside the sound.

Dub's ability to incorporate but not overwhelm other styles of music has helped fuel its current popularity and increasing influence across the globe. From traditional Indian and Middle Eastern melodies to drum 'n' bass and house, new hybrids are sprouting up everywhere. In the midst of all this musical cross-breeding, reclusive minimalist-techno producers Maurizio Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus have veered in the opposite direction; the Berlin-based duo decided to strip dub down to its most basic elements. The result is the stunning minimalism of Rhythm & Sound.

Originally released in Europe as a series of ten-inch vinyl singles, these tracks have been compiled into a double-CD set by local experimental label Asphodel. Disc One contains the vocal versions, featuring obscure roots chanters such as Cornel Campbell, Jah Batta, the Chosen Brothers, Shalom, and the inimitable female duo the Love Joys. Disc Two offers the unadulterated dubs and a real glimpse of Rhythm & Sound's genius. The bass is subsonic, emerging from the speakers like a controlled earthquake. Layered on top are the barest of elements: tentative hand drums that sound as if they're being played far off in the jungle, horn fragments echoing and fading out, and the subtle warmth of an analogue mixing desk. This is the dub record of the decade.


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