Is this thing on? Wait a minute… There, that’s better. Thank you, no, I think we’re alright now.
A couple months ago, I was introduced to the music of Jay Glass Dubs through his tape Glacial Dancehall, which was released earlier this year on the UK label Bokeh Versions. A reimagination of the very process behind “dubbing,” this release was billed as “an exercise of style by artist Dimitris Papadatos focusing on a counter-factual historical approach of dub music” and recommended for fans of DJ Screw. This really piqued my interest, because one of my earliest Tiny Mix Tapes articles, a DeLorean post on 1981’s Scientific Dub, drew a number of parallels between Scientist and DJ Screw and, in broader terms, between dub and screwed-up versions.
Left open there, though critical to our purposes today (namely, our aim to escape the screw-dub time continuum and return to real-time tracking speed), are the subtle yet supremely significant differences between time-stretching and pitch-shifting — the sometimes virtually indistinguishable disconnect between space and sound. It’s my belief that Mr. Papadatos and his co-conspirators at Bokeh Versions have actually successfully bridged that divide and that listeners such as myself are living proof. Or perhaps more accurately, dreaming proof. (You’ll have to pardon me if this sounds hyper-romanticized. I assure you that there’s nothing “hyper” about this condition whatsoever; if anything, it could more accurately be likened to the lethargy one experiences when suffering from hypothyroidism.) I say “dreaming,” merely because how else can one logically explain living at once with two distinct tempos?
Of course, I’m only aware of the temporal difference, because of your silence. Think about it like that awesome scene from Days of Future Past, where American Horror Story Quicksilver changes the trajectory of the bullets, gives a guard a wedgie, and steals another’s hat before anyone even notices he’s moved. I’m on guard duty. To you, I’m a drone-mouse. But that’s how long it took to write this review, compared with how fast you found and read it. Some of my fellow listeners might not even realize they’ve been displaced, but they will when the new teeth sink into their old country.
They say it takes sentience to distinguish pitch from frequency, which explains why Fruity Loops quantifies its stretch via piano keys. Not for your convenience, but its own.
Sorry, it’s all too easy to go off on tangents at this tempo. That’s one of the main reasons we have to get back to real time. You think your life’s distracting? Try maintaining an attention span when every second feels like a minute in the middle of a family road trip. Thankfully, the builder of this house of mirrors, Jay Glass Dubs, is not some sadistic mad scientist who takes pleasure in permanently narcotizing his audience. A benevolent experimentalist, he’s formulated a way home for us time-stunted lab rats to escape the maze.
“Compound Dub” is our alarm system. A fire sprinkler rains naloxone over a defibrillator-paneled dancefloor, spraying liquid opioid blockers between electro pulses. This shock and awe campaign continues beat-blasting heads and toes until both are dodge-dancing like an old Western barkeep on the wrong end of a trigger-happy bender. And when finally we’ve tapped our feet and swayed our shoulders to within close proximity of the current time frame, a conciliatory fist of fury punches our mouths in for their own good.
The scrape-and-pull orthodontia of “New Teeth Dub” reminds us we may have bitten off more than we could chew the last time. This process may be painful, but keep in mind its design to prevent relapse and recidivism. Trust that this metallic taste is more pleasing than the alternative, and rest assured that when it’s all over our, champers will be bigger, faster, and stronger.
“Versatile Dub” begins to peel the veneer of past transmissions, pulling back the curtains of what could’ve been, so we can again see what is and what can still be. Hazy though our vision may appear at first, we can at least take comfort in the knowledge that, while the window to our futures is foggy, it can now be opened. Or can it?
Cold to the touch, the window feels frozen shut, and the crowbar conveniently placed beside it will neither jimmy the lock nor pry the pane. It will, however, shatter the double-sided glass. Just be careful now, because panes like these are known to come off in sheets, the edges of which will chop your head off cleaner than a samurai cyborg. Speaking of which, who’s that out there? That can’t be a—
At the first beat change of “Interlude II,” I wonder where I am now, and where did I miss “Interlude I” or was that just the flipping of the tape? Around the second change, I recognize that the interlude is the longest track on the tape and wonder what, if anything, is the significance of that. By the time the third change takes effect, I’ve come to realize that each step in this biomechanical process has been longer than the last. I clench my New Teeth for an Old Country and prepare to gnash at that earlier era’s throat.
We can escape our fates, but not redundancies. History repeats itself, and repetition, as Ornette Coleman said, “is as natural as the fact that the earth rotates.” Every sword is double edged…
Hello, can you still hear me? Hello, is anybody listening? Is anyone out there?
I don’t think this thing is even transmitting anymore, damn it.
Well, did you try adjusting the antenna?
Well, then don’t just stand there. Try it!
Testing 1-2-3. Working? OK, let’s try this again. Hello out there, do you read me? Do you copy? If so, I wanted to let you know that we’re still out here. We see you. We’re just outside.