In the world of dub, the beat, or should I say the riddim is king, often unfolding in layer upon layer of funky turns. But, for the common man, reggae equals Marley equals marijuana and what results is a blurred stigma that keeps the aseptic ear far, far away from anything dub. Luckily, collectives like Dub Traffik Control don’t let the dust settle through their gusts of fresh, overexcited dancehall and salsa-wise dub.
General El Poeta, Captain Eddie Turbo, Zohar, and Dr. Turbank, among others, have been partners in rhyme since 2006. Together they are the missing link between Zohar Island, New York, Los Angeles, and other disparate locations. The various latitudes of this collectives origins add up to a sound that steps on hot lava to deliver cold, sharpened cuts that find a particular way to remain true to reggae’s genetic code.
The EP opens with "Searching For Stalag", a mash-up of a multitude of reggae samples and a heavy riddim lain over cuts from Border Crossing's "Searching for Mr. Manuva" (Ominous, 2003), that you can also catch as part of their ultra-heavy dub mix called "Dub One" which debuted on Samurai.fm and is now available here at Properlychilled.com as well. But while "The Fresh Prince of Babylon" respects the metric and aesthetic of all reggae tracks done and still to come, "Pity the Dub" (the last track on side A), drops its rhythm in a heavy, dubstep way.
Stepping outside the dub on side B is a mash for all you exotica freaks out there that brings its bad-trip tiki vibe around to a dancehall beat. "Juana Tijuana" lets in all sorts of infected Mexican influences, and though it doesn't stray far from the basis of the original track by Agua Dulce (Searching For Juana, 2001), Turbank’s percussive heat makes it a track you might drop next to something by Los Hermanos Latinos. "Rebel" offers a Brazilian take on David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel", and nearly lives outside of the heavy machinery that constitutes Dub Traffik Control's core value. The incorporation of some glistening 80s synth keys as a juxtapose to Seu Jorge's unmistakable, feather-soft vocals safely keeps this track from sounding like a male incarnation of Nouvelle Vague.
The closing track, "Zebras in the Dubhall" is a DTC remix that can also be found on the Habitat Sound System 7-inch of the same name, out on Gematria.
House, dancehall and icy breaks are all spoils of a commercial war that Dub Traffik Control wisely incorporates into its music, that more often than not makes you happily forget how much mash is in the up. So, next time a reggae revivalist party draws a blank after a couple of reruns, consider stepping into the dubhall of these fine folks.