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World Music Features

Dub Trio

By Bill Murphy
Published May 4, 2006

"The way I look at it, we’re not strictly playing roots dub or reggae dub," says Dub Trio's Joe Toimino. "We’re definitely not trying to be Rastafari. What we do is to use dub more as a musical foundation, as a concept to build off of.”

Of all the different styles of music to come out of Jamaica over the years, arguably none has exerted as profound an outernational influence as what has come to be known as version or, by its more immediately recognizable name, the dub style. Credited by DJs worldwide as the original seed of the modern remix, dub is the art of studio manipulation, perfected by the likes of King Tubby, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Augustus Pablo and other Jamaican producers who churned out some of the most psychedelic, effects-laden slabs of the 1970s. By taking the reggae hits of the day and selectively “dubbing out” the vocal and backing tracks while making extreme use of echo, delay, flange and other filters, Tubby and his brethren created the dark, ectoplasmic soundscapes that later provided the spark for new movements in music ranging from trip-hop to drum ’n’ bass and beyond.

So how could three young musicians now relocated to New York—by way of Boston’s Berklee School of Music and the New England Conservatory, no less—ever expect to get over by playing live dub? It isn’t easy, says drummer Joe Tomino, but along with bassist Stu Brooks and guitarist David “DP” Holmes, the group calling itself Dub Trio is gradually making waves among the club cognoscenti.

“We’re sort of taking a chance playing this music,” Tomino admits, “because people don’t always get it when they hear it, or we get singled out for supposedly being something we’re not. The way I look at it, we’re not strictly playing roots dub or reggae dub. I mean, we’re definitely not trying to be Rastafari; anyone who thinks that is missing the boat. We appreciate what the music is and where it’s coming from, and with that in mind, what we do is to use dub more as a musical foundation, as a concept to build off of.”

Exploring The Dangers Of (ROIR) is Dub Trio’s first attempt at fleshing out what started as just a radical way to get gigs back in 2000, when the three first made the move to Gotham. In the ensuing years, they developed what can only be described as a totally unique way of transmuting the essence of dub in a live context, with each musician not only playing his own parts but using samplers and chains of effects pedals (such as reverb and delay) to capture and manipulate, in real time, the parts being played by his bandmates. The result is a sound that can be stripped-down and tight, or huge and orchestral, at the stomp of a switch.

“That’s where we really get to stretch out,” Tomino says. “The effects and the parameters, the dubs, if you will, are more improvisational. Dub Trio is definitely an improvisational band, not in a jazz way in that we’re playing changes or anything, but in the way that a jazz cat would play over changes. We definitely<