Leapin' Lizard

Various artists
Planet Dub
(Mammoth/Planet Dog)

If you're wondering why the term "dub" pops up in discussions of popular music with increasing frequency these days, blame it on another fashionable piece of crit-speak: "postrock." That's the name for the current trend of pop music drifting away from the melody-driven, verse/chorus structure of rock toward a more linear, textural form that emphasizes studio craft over live musicianship and songwriting. Thus, we have techno, ambient, jungle, hip-hop and the growing instrumental art-rock movement.

And we have dub, the grandfather of them all. Dub began in the early '70s when reggae producers like Lee "Scratch" Perry and King Tubby reworked recorded tracks by cutting vocals, dropping instruments in and out of the mix and overlaying outside sounds until they'd created a totally new composition. Instead of a final work, a recording became the raw material from which many new songs could be made.

Today, dub music flourishes both by staying close to its reggae roots and by courting new flavors from hip-hop and techno. Planet Dub, a two-disc compilation sent from England's Planet Dog label, collects the work of 16 dub masters from the UK (where the movement is currently strongest), including 100th Monkey, Children of the Bong, Eat Static, and Alpha and Omega. The tracks here run the spectrum from deep roots to highly electronic, but what stands out is the flux and flow of sound; the heavy bass and the trippy beats. Dub and its progeny aren't set to dethrone pop rock anytime soon, but dub continues to offer a new construct for popular music.--Roni Sarig

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