Dub Jay‘s new release on the Kikapu netlabel, at kikapu.com, has a colorful backstory. But before spelling it out for you (that is, before exploring the somewhat hidden provenance of Perfectly Ordinary Recorded Noise, as the EP is titled), it’s worth taking a moment to just listen to its four tracks, especially the first two. As the musician’s name suggests, Dub Jay’s work is informed by dub, which in this case means that it takes extended reverb as a given, much the way someone raised in New Orleans would take humidity as a given, or someone raised in Manhattan would take street noise as a given. Long echoes are inherent in Dub Jay’s music, so everything he does he expects to occur again, at repeated intervals, until it fades away. On Perfectly Ordinary Recorded Noise, that results in slowly accruing, vocal-less pop songs built from rival currents of gadgety sound, not the clicks and whirs of microsonics, but the more substantial beats of trip-hop, as well as emotive skronks that suggest a tentative saxophone, and little bits of vocals that, while only occasionally intelligible, are ever-present.
Now, about those vocals … as it turns out, if you abbreviate Dub Jay’s album title, you get P.O.R.N., and that’s exactly what it’s really built from. The Kikapu site refers to Dub Jay’s raw goods as “obscure,” but click on through to his own site, at dubjay.samenna.com, and there’s a more detailed depiction of his recording process: “Every sound on this EP (which has a convenient abbreviation) is sampled from Internet pornography. Obviously there has been a considerable amount of effecting and manipulation to obscure the original source and make the results musically useful. … Hi-hats may come from breathing noises, pads from female noises elongated and stretched out, and so on.”
Now, of course, such literal electric body music automatically enters P.O.R.N. into a relatively small library of like-sourced recordings, including Matmos’ phenomenal A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure and Jessica Vale’s The Sex Album, a far less rigorous, and far less interesting, attempt to build music from the sounds of the human body. As for Dub Jay, he’s got his priorities straight: “No sounds were sourced from music contained in pornography — that would be cheating.”