Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmissionby Bill Laswell
These days, dubwise takes a back seat to dancehall in the reggae market. Go to a CD store that sells a lot of reggae -- perhaps in Kingston, Jamaica, perhaps in the Brixton section of London -- and you'll find a lot more new dancehall recordings than new dub recordings. Nonetheless, dub still has an audience, and not everyone who is recording dub in the 21st century favors a classic '70s-type sound along the lines of King Tubby, U-Roy, I-Roy, Big Youth, or I-Jah Man. There is also the neo-dub movement, which Bill Laswell has been a vital part of. Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmission finds the veteran bassist/producer offering yet another dose of his intriguing neo-dub experimentation. Instead of giving an exact replica of grooves from dub's classic era, a 49-year-old Laswell combines dub with modern electronica and takes it to a trippy, hypnotic, atmospheric place -- a place where the reggae beat interacts with ambient club/dance grooves. Version 2 Version doesn't cater to dub purists by any means; anyone who expects this 2004 release to sound exactly like King Tubby circa 1971 is bound to be disappointed. But then, anyone who is familiar with Laswell's history knows that expecting him to offer a carbon copy of old-school dubwise would be like expecting Ornette Coleman to play "Ornithology" exactly like Charlie "Bird" Parker played it in the late '40s. In other words, Laswell is known for shaking things up, which is why his vision of dubwise is experimental rather than traditional. Although not Laswell's best or most essential dub album, Version 2 Version is definitely rewarding -- and it's nice to see him maintaining his free spirit at 49.
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