Dub, American Style

There's more to West Coast instrumental pop than surf music – just ask Dub Narcotic Sound System, Grassy Knoll, President's Breakfast, or Money Mark.

Much has been made of late of the brave new dub-influenced pop tunes wafting across the Atlantic. All manner of this danceable British music, from the ambient-techno encounters of Aphex Twin to the dreamy songs of Tricky and Portishead, is permeated by dub, a meditative studio methodology that originated a quarter century ago in Jamaica, the home of reggae.

More quietly — if anything can be said to be quieter than ambient music — a dub revival is also coalescing in the United States. But aside from the Beastie Boys, whose percussion-and-organ instrumentals betray youths spent under the spell of such Jamaican innovators as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, none of the dub-influenced U.S. rock bands have achieved the notoriety of their U.K. brethren. Such groups as the Dub Narcotic Sound System (from Olympia, Wash.) and President’s Breakfast (from San Francisco) are using dub as a creative launch pad, but their work is too disparate to fit easily under a rubric like “trip-hop,” the umbrella term for much of the new British dub-influenced pop. Continue reading “Dub, American Style”