Dub Syndicate | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dub Syndicate 

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Dub Syndicate

It took some cojones for pomo British dub wizard Adrian Sherwood to christen this innovative band--which evolved out of Creation Rebel and New Age Steppers in the early 80s--with a generic name like Dub Syndicate. Except for drummer, songwriter, and de facto leader Style Scott, who's played on all but the first of the group's seven albums, Dub Syndicate is made up of a revolving cast of players. Formulated in the 70s by Jamaican producers like King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry, dub stripped reggae music down to its raw bass 'n' drums groove and then organically draped the discombobulated, deconstructed, and rebuilt original ingredients--the nonrhythmic song elements--over the hypnotic rhythms. Dub versions were cut from traditional vocal versions. Dub remains an excellent vehicle for head music--the wiggy, near-psychedelic splashes, explosions, and drifts of sound--to interlock with body music, the killer grooves. Sherwood's conception of dub upended the Jamaican paradigm and took it way out. Embracing technology, Sherwood's work, as showcased through his remarkable On-U Sound label, shifted the focus of dub to being a goal rather than a useful by-product. While over the years Dub Syndicate has featured vocals by Perry, Bim Sherman, and Prince Far I, its primary thrust has been daring instrumental exploration. It could be the epitome of stoner headphone music if it wasn't so visceral in its huge rhythmic function. Now that dub has crept into the mainstream through dance music--both through pop-oriented work and more experimental fare, like that of dub-inflected openers Tortoise--the rare chance to learn directly from the Dub Syndicate academy shouldn't be squandered. Also appearing are the Deadly Dragon Sound System, a loosely adapted local sound system pumping out vintage dub reggae, jungle, and other appealingly discursive dance sounds. Saturday, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203. Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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