MY SPINE IS THE BASSLINE
Wire Dub Sessions
@ Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London
Wednesday 28th March 2001
By Sheikh Ahmed
This evening has all the markings of some high-brow intellectual muso's gig....
But luckily the crowd didn't seem to reflect this and what promised to be a night of bowel quaking bass movements ended up offering so much more. An international dub match between Germany and England.
Burnt Friedman & Jaki Leibezeit
First up we have the excellent Burnt Friedman (minus his Nu-Dub Players), Berlin-based recording artist for Pole's ~scape imprint and producer of highly stylised dub. Taking the controls of a pre-historic synthesiser and with the addition of a nervous looking Jaki Leibezeit (ex-Can) on drums, he leads us through several tracks of incredibly infectious dub pieces.
Allowing Jaki to show us his unique drumming skills against Burnt's looped Jazz basslines and reverbed effects, the overall effect is utterly hypnotic. The old-school confines of the Queen Elizabeth Hall quaking to the booming sub-bass bellowing out from Burnt's magical contraption had to be felt to be believed. His set is a cross section of more Jazzy material to simplistic dub workouts. Brilliant stuff.
After the minimal dubscapes of Messrs Friedman and Leibezeit, we have the slightly more busy-sounding Jah Wobble. Ex-PIL bassist and all round bass legend who famously contributed to forty-minute Orb single 'Blue Room', Jah has since disbanded his Invaders of the Heart project and is debuting here as a solo artist. But he's not without friends. Collecting numerous musicians, all of whom play an odd selection of wind instruments as well a saxophonist and drummer. He quickly concocts a heady brew of world musics and dub.
Not really seperate tracks, but one long jamming session beginning with the most longest intro that you've ever heard. That horrible word 'fusion' quickly springs to mind and despite his best interests to keep things interesting during his lengthy set, the whole thing doesn't really hit you with the same power as the boys from Berlin.
Finally we have the current king of modern dub, Pole aka Stefan Betke, to show us the correct technique. Looking like an undercover detective with a build to match, he strides over to his mixing desk and teases us with his trademark glitch percussion and minimal tinny melodies before throwing the biggest fattest basslines of the night. I mean huge foundation quaking stuff that'll make Leftfield weep. And we are supposed to be seated during all of this? Nonetheless, his take on dub is probably as pure as it gets, despite being well within the digital domain. His slight melodies and use of swirling feedback and reverb adding to the already intense atmosphere. Exceptional. to end things off we have the pairing of Jaki Leibezeit and Jah Wobble for a quick ten minute jam. Jaki's more restrained drumming technique (he looks like he's never played the drums before!) and Jah's growling bass make for an interesting mix.
So the future dub is safe in the hands of these men, but the final score in the international stakes would have to be Germany 2 - England 0.