In anticipation for his release on Effecient Space, Australian producer and psychologist Andy Rantzen selected and spoke about 5 dub albums that helped him define his sound back in the day.
Although I’d been playing in dub/industrial hybrid groups like Wrong Kind of Stone Age and Pelican Daughters right through the 80s, I didn’t attempt a dub record of my own until the late 90s. By then I was a techno head and not listening to much dub at all. The record company I was working with, Creative Vibes, was responding to a sudden explosion of interest in digital dub in Australia by releasing compilations and the occasional album by local artists. They asked me if I’d like to be involved and I was glad to say yes. Writing dub-influenced music is a learning experience that forces you to think about space as much as sound. It reminds you that less is more. Here are 5 albums that hugely inspired me back in the days.
Various Artists – Serious Dub (1987)
In the 80s, in Australia at least, it was still a newish concept that dub could be entirely digital. I played this record to death when it came out, immersing myself in the sounds with headphones. I had never really heard anything like it. I was struck by how warm and rhythmically satisfying a digital dub record could be. It seems silly to say it now, but my friends and I had always associated digital dub influences with a fairly cold and dystopian aesthetic, and this record melted away the necessity of that association.
The Mad Professor – Dub Me Crazy Pt. 10: Psychedelic Dub (1990)
The Mad Professor was prolific in the 80s and early 90s. I had some of his Ariwa material, including his first release, and I studied it deeply as nerds do. As the 80s progressed he began developing a clean digital sound more and more until finally most of the live instruments disappeared completely. His sound was spacey, bright, melodic, playful and high tech for its time. It refreshed my perception of dub music.
Mark Stewart + Maffia – Learning To Cope With Cowardice (1983)
In Sydney during the 80s, a lot of my friends were listening to UK label On-U Sound. This very special record is not clearly any genre, but there’s a huge solid dose of dub-inflected violence and paranoia in there, which owes plenty to the long alliance in the UK that existed between dub, punk and industrial music. It showed how extreme you could be if you were so minded. Stewart and Arian Sherwood got wonderfully horrible, piercing and distorted sounds out of the desk, rending and tearing the compositions, and barely paying any attention to textural, musical or even rhythmic continuity. It was as if they were trying to torture the music into confessing some kind of crime. But the bass was still there, the reggae rhythms were still there, grooving laconically underneath the chaos. And over the top of it all, Stewart’s anguished voice and lyrics.
Sheriff Lindo And The Hammer – Ten Dubs That Shook The World (1988)
A lot of people in Australia knew about this record, which was way ahead of its time for Sydney in the 80s. I didn’t meet the producer himself until a decade later, and to my delight I ended up working with him on a few tracks. He turned out to be quirky, restless and highly disciplined in the studio. I learned a lot about how to produce from him. I’ve never met anyone who knows how to use outboard gear and effects like him – he knew absolutely everything about what his gear could do.
Jeff Dread – The Merchant Of Dub (1999)
All the above records were things I listened to in the 80s, but this one came out in the following decade during a small but passionate explosion of digital dub producing that happened in Sydney in the late 90s, characteristically much later than its inspirational sources, but hey, that’s how we roll in this country, and that’s how we got AC/DC and Savage Garden. Jeff Dread has minimal, lo-fi sound that doesn’t shirk melody. You can whistle some of these tunes. It’s deep and narcotically dreamy. Somehow it creates an atmosphere that resists direct listening.
*Unfortunately we couldn’t find any song of this album on the web, so have a listen to “Return to Alpha One” instead.
Effecient Space will release the 1/66 EP, containing archived material from Andy Rantzen, on October 27th, 2017, have a listen down below!