Kode9 & The Spaceape – “Quantum” (2006)
To the casual follower of the Hyperdub label, Burial’s work looms large. However, Kode9 & The Spaceape’s album ‘Memories of the Future’ is almost equally appealing. Existing in a less hazy/rain-drenched landscape of sharper shapes amidst the cavernous dub, propelled as much by The Spaceape’s vocal contributions as Kode9’s beats, this music lives up to the album’s name. It sounds like a future that knows the past, a futurism that isn’t about pretending to exist ex nihilo. [Kode9 & The Spaceape are featured in an appropriately spooky, rich mix, ‘Tall Stories of Evil Gris-Gris,’ at Musicophilia.]
Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)
“Mr. Partridge” is Andy Partridge of XTC, but this solo-ish work isn’t the singer-songwriter-perfect-pop you might expect from later years. This track comes from one of the attempts Partridge made at dub/remix work in the early, more post-punk phase of the band’s career, sampling elements songs from the first three albums. The results are unique in the band’s oeuvre, and are underrated and wonderfully weird. [My other favorite track from early solo Partridge, though not a sample-based piece, can be heard as part of this beat/dance-oriented set at Musicophilia.]
Pinch – “Brighter Day” (Instrumental) [AKA “Qawwali”] (2006)
I’m not well versed in British electronic music between the early 90s and the present day, so when I hear “dubstep” I hear the dub more than the step. This spare, spacious cavern of a track fits right in with its dub roots; or the work of Pole or Deadbeat and their insectoid, deconstructed dub; some imaginary reduced-fat Timbaland; or even something like post-punkers Grey or Shriekback or early Front 242. I love well-used space in a mix, and this instrumental version uses it deftly, and achieves a stillness-through-motion that echoes the Qawwali music from which it ostensibly draws inspiration.
The Congos – “Solid Foundation” (1977)
Produced by Lee Perry, I admit I wish ‘Heart of the Congos’ had been produced in stereo, to let the dub and the elements breathe a little. But the record contains some of the most beautiful melodies (and staggered harmonies) I’ve ever heard in pop music; they achieve a floating, haunting, convincingly religious quality. The 2-disc CD reissue doesn’t add anything revalatory, but it’s good if you need just a little more (since the Congos don’t seem to have produced much); otherwise, you won’t do much better with your $13 than picking up a single-disc copy.