bvdub – Monuments to Oblivion (Southern Outpost)

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Ex-Sydney label Southern Outpost relocated to San Francisco just over a year ago but everyone knows their spiritual home has always been Detroit. bvdub’s first release for the label arrived on audio cassette containing four tracks, two of which also have release on 12″.

First it was a challenge to find a tape deck to play this back on. I had to pull several boxes out of deep storage to find my old 3 head Sony deck. And to my surprise, cassettes sound frightfully good for what they are – I think most of us have forgotten that if they were made properly and played on a decent rig then they could be quite good, especially compared to the flatness of mid-quality MP3.

I’m sure that’s part of the story behind this release because as the tape spooled over the dusty heads, bvdub’s 4 ten-minute plus epics of warm, gaseous dubbed out Detroit techno were filled with even more hiss, static, and flutter as a result of the cassette medium. Much like a faded photo the effect of the cassette medium on the muted kicks and plangent synths adds a degree of melancholy and age to the listening experience. The Side A tracks meander on jerky rhythms and clouds of synth delay. Side B’s ‘Tears for a Fallen Empire’ and ‘Gone are the Days’ bubble along on rubbery analogue bass and straight techno kicks, and are the pick of the four.

There’s little new here – but that’s exactly the point – just top quality Detroit influenced dub techno in the vein of contemporaries Deepchord and Echospace. It is even worth digging out your cassette deck to listen.

Sebastian Chan

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About Author

Seb Chan founded Cyclic Defrost Magazine in 1998 with Dale Harrison. He handed over the reins at the end of 2010 but still contributes the occasional article and review.

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