Reviews

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid vs. Twilight Circus Dub Sound System

Dub soundclashes are a classic technique (traditionally a meeting of Jamaican sound systems in a sparring match) honored here by two prolific musicians who live miles away from its geographical origin. DJ Spooky resides in New York but spends his life traveling around the world, while Twilight Circus's Ryan Moore was born in Canada but makes his home in the Netherlands. (Incidentally, the resulting Riddim Clash was recorded for a Tokyo-based record label.) Spooky and Moore are both multi-instrumentalists who specialize in playing bass (both upright and bass guitar), the anchoring element on which most dub music is judged.

But it's the use of classical instruments that make the standout cuts soar on their album together. "Other Planes of Dub" places a lilting violin played by Daniel Bernard Roumain at the center of the action, manipulating it into the standard dub tools of echo and reverb and putting it into a context in which it is rarely heard. "Gamma Burst" similarly works with Niels Van Hoorn's live saxophone and flute amid twinkling keys recalling stars and space dust. What's refreshing about Riddim Clash is that while it's foundationally influenced by sounds from the island, the two artists thoughtfully mine new territory rather than rehash Jamaican stereotypes.

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Tamara Palmer