I love music that plays somewhere in that glitterball-lit realm between disco, house, dub, funk, rock 'n roll, and pop. This site will host mixes I've made and songs I like that dance across the genres. Let me know what you think. And if you've got a party or night you'd like moving to this sound, drop me a line on rorychallands (at) gmail (dot) com.

The Final Frontier

Space. I think it's the best trick dub ever taught modern dance music. The sonic experiments of a handful of blisteringly stoned studio technicians in Jamaica in the 1970s exploded like a sub-woofered depth charge through the emerging street sounds of London and New York. Disco, hip-hop, electro, and then house all carried the ball passed from King Tubby, Lee Perry et al.

The tools are easy enough, but the effects are massive. A drenching of echo... a touch of reverb... and suddenly you're not in a musically flat plane anymore. You're in three dimensions and they stretch to the distance. Much rock music often sounds confined, like each instrument played comes from the same point in space as all the others. Dance music isn't immune from this problem either, but I often feel at its best it's braver at blasting through the studio walls to see what's outside. It has dub to thank.

I've chosen two songs I think use space particularly well. The first is Baby I Love You So by Colourbox. It wears its dub credentials firmly on its sleeve. In fact it's a cover of perhaps the best known dub track ever, King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. But Colourbox weren't grizzled Kingston rastas, they were two ex-punks from south east London excited by the musical possibilities of sequencers and samplers. In Baby I Love You So from 1986 they drop a mournful vocal over that monstrous bassline. But woven through are the echoing horn stabs and gunshot ricochets from old Western films that really turn this into the wonderful, cavernous beast it is. A year later they'd flip club music on it's head as M|A|R|R|S with Pump Up The Volume, the first UK house single to reach the top of the charts.


Next up is a much more contemporary track, the decidedly chilly Johan Agebjörn remix of Glassy Candy's The Chameleon. The icy synths and Ida No's monotonously seductive cooings about suicide set the tone. But then the song starts to slip away from you into the distance. No, it's not slipping away... you're following it... down into a vortex of sound that's so hugely spacious it's actually claustrophobic. This is one of those pieces of music that's beautiful and creepy at the same time. I went to see the Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In recently, and it's hung itself upside down next to this song in the same cold corner of my mind.


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