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Published: 2004/09/30
by Jesse Jarnow

Exploring the Dangers of – Dub Trio

ROIR 8287
Dub Trio is to dub what The New Deal is to house music. And, with any luck, within a few years, they’ll have a following to match. Each gives their own take on a style predominantly born in dingy recording studios, retooling it ultimately for live performance and all its attendant creative challenges. The translations aren’t literal, and each uses different techniques to locate and smooth over the transition points. And, like The New Deal, it is there that Dub Trio finds their voice.
There is far more forward momentum in Dub Trio’s music than the roots dub they take as their influence. In the genuine article, if there is such a thing, the songs were played live and dubbed later. The point wasn’t to play dub. The point was to play a reggae tune and have yer beats be subjected to some spliffed-out dude’s echoes and splices and shit. From the get-go, Dub Trio heads right for the ether.
Arranged for a live act, where you’ve gotta keep an audience’s attentions, one of Dub Trio’s three voices is always keeping the motion going. During the first moments of the disc-opening "Drive By Dub," drummer Joe Tomino heads in with a deeply-thumping kick-drum beat that resembles (weirdly) a slow-motion house pulse. The beat doesn’t last though, carrying through only until the melody is introduced. In this department, the band could use some more work (preferably involving more prominent melodica). There is very little pure languidity on Exploring the Dangers of.
This adherence to rhythmic drive is a Catch-22. On one hand, it makes every drop-out and lay-back sound orchestrated, which seems to miss the point of ‘em. But, on the other hand, it injects a drama into the music that likely wouldn’t be there otherwise (check out the intricate fly-buzzing guitar (?) pattern near the end of "Sick Im Kid"). The bad news about this is that it means Scientist or King Tubby or somebody will always win out over Dub Trio (at least, this album) when you really wanna chill, but the good news is that Dub Trio are probably a fantastic live act.
On the three live cuts that close the disc, Dub Trio get even busier. But, where The New Deal builds up, Dub Trio build down. Songs like "Awakening Dub" don’t rise to frenzy. Rather, they methodically see how mellow they can get. It is more noticeable when they remove layers (such as guitarist DP Holmes’ dance with silence on "Fur Boots on the Party Moose"). Given that decay-echo is dub’s identifying characteristic, it makes a fair bit of sense. Exploring the Dangers of is a debut that Dub Trio should be amped about, and a fascinating opening statement from a band to watch (and, more importantly, actually listen to).
As far as I can tell, the only thing that might hold Dub Trio back from being a massive success is that dub ain’t exactly party music. There’s little in here that makes me wanna whoop or jump. That said, I’d be totally psyched to go check these dudes out on some random-ass Friday night. I could easily imagine Dub Trio playing to a small ballroom of gently bobbing stoned kids. Sounds like a good time to me, man.

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