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Richard Dorfmeister Presents...
...A Different Drummer Selection: A Decade in Dub '92-02
Different Drummer
Reviewed by: tobias c. van Veen

Let's get this straight: Richard Dorfmeister has little to do with this album. His name is prominently placed on the title-top for the simple sake of selling the album. Rich is not a turntablist, or even a mad selector, he just pulled out the hookah one night and went: "Yep, this be some gooood shiiitttt...." And yes, indeedy, it is good shit. Different Drummer has been treading the fine lines of UK dub and dub house for the past 10 or so years, and has catalogued a few classic releases along the way. Like hip-hop, UK dub is far more influenced by the general development of electronic music and the massive festival and club scenes that dominate the Royal Rock than its US and other counterparts. And for the most part UK dub is a far cleaner affair than anything actually coming out of Jamaica, and far less experimental than the twisted wanderings of Lee Perry-influenced Twilight Circus Dub Soundsystem, aka Ryan Moore. Straight cuts. Soundsystem jams that move from the ragga two-step to the 4/4 thick slab of dub-house: rimshots, processed and echoed brass, MCs calling out to Jah in a very pre-meditated way... True, this isn't a breakthrough dub album by any respects. Studio One has not risen from the ashes. In fact, back in Vancouver we used to call this Kitsilano Music. All the Yuppies who would come jogging in with armbands to indie store Zulu looking for Kruder & Dorfmeister. Lounge music for martini nights. Maybe smoke a joint but don't get too paranoid. Keep a lid on, the kids are sleeping and I need to wash the Beamer in the morning...

One shouldn't condemn the album just because a wank and lost social group has claimed its easy-listenin' vibe as the anthem to their high-class gym workouts. Like cool jazz, it can sound truly "cool" with enough set & setting vis-ŕ-vis Tim Leary. Thing is, has this dub been sent one too many times through the stain remover Tide cycle? "He's a clean man"—John's line, A Hard Day's Night, in relation to Paul's "grandfather:" it's the clean old men you have to watch out for, for they're the ones who end up selling the Celeb photos and turning a capital profit from the creativity and sweat of others. And often this distinction is wrought in skin colour and race. The appropriation of dub cannot be distanced from this picture: its transportation, its removal from the context of the soundsystem at one end of the sonic spectrum, and from the worship of Jah at the other.

Different Drummer redeems itself (or Dorfmeister displays his redeeming qualities) when the selection begins moving through the abstract. "Miss Melody Wax" by Painted Van, although breaking into a classic jazz 4/4, retains enough weirdness when we hear: "How to play a melody...wax" with a one-bar piano loop. It isn't until we get to Rockers Hi Fi, however, that the dub drones out and samples the ambient lapse of classic dub house and remixes the chill out spectrum, indulging in the thickest of the cemented UK drones that sounded off the soundtrack to early-morning sunrises for the first half of the '90s. And that's really all there is to say. If you like your dub clean and easy, if you need to entertain your parents: here ya' go.

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