Panda Bear & Sonic Boom – Reset In Dub

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Panda Bear reset in dub review

With its strictly limited toolbox of sounds and techniques, dub is one of those genres of music that over its history has done so much with so little. When trying to find the best dub recordings and remixes, listeners also have to ascertain whether the end goal is wholly moving music from one context to another, or playing with and around the strongest points of original compositions. Dub remix albums are having a fresh new moment over the last few years, and one of the greatest modern sound systems—Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound—finds wondrous new things to say with Panda Bear and Sonic Boom’s work first heard on Reset from August 2022. Reset in Dub brings into the equation an element that isn’t always so immediately audible in dub: joy.

Last year, Sherwood dubbed out the latest studio album from Horace Andy. His process removed a lot of Andy’s vocals from the mix, doing the music and both of their reputations no favors. The original Reset was inspired by and used samples from music from the first two decades of rock. Combined with the Animal Collective and Spacemen 3 alumni’s vocal interplay and stylings, it made a lot of psychic connections to the more experimental good-time music of Brian Wilson and his Beach Boys. You have to work really hard to remix the brightness out of songs like those; to his credit, Sherwood doubles down on it. Despite Panda Bear and Sonic Boom playing for a different crowd and having a more slight reputation than Andy, the appeal of the sounds on Reset in Dub feels much more universal.

The moodiest moment on Reset in Dub is the chopped and screwed back half of “Danger Dub,” and we only get there through three-plus minutes of chirping reggae full of glitched horns. Most of this music otherwise conveys a sense of hope and fun that you don’t normally hear in Sherwood’s productions, nor frankly in much of dub at all without the aid of certain herbs. “Edge of the Edge Dub” is a wonderful alternative to the big single from Reset, something radio should sneak in their playlists. It falls endlessly down The Orb’s rabbit hole, Panda Bear’s sunny melodic lines competing with Sonic Boom’s barbershop-quartet harmonies, dream-pop guitar, and the connective beeps of phones and computers.

Sherwood picks his spots smartly. He can leave enough of Panda Bear and Sonic Boom’s originals intact yet elevated (“Living in the After Dub”). Elsewhere he transforms them into successful creative experiments, filling “Gettin’ to the Point Dub” with traditional flute, horn, and sirens, while “Go On Dub” merges the two players’ vocals into horn and rhythm lines. Overall, Reset in Dub reminds us that when grading who’s doing the dub, consider the source as well. It also reminds us just how deceptively simple the concept of dub is, how complex the results can become—”it’s forever at the push of a button,” claims the “Edge of the Edge” lyric given new life and meaning here—and, sometimes, that the results don’t need to be complex at all to be great.

Label: Domino

Year: 2023

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