The link between dub music and technology is as old as the genre itself – you could even argue that dub is THE purest example of a technology expressed through music. At its best, it’s like magic – when I first saw Scientist run the board for Mikey Dread live, it truly was like watching a magician at work. He had a way of flicking faders so fast but so subtly that they seemed to move with a will of their own.
Although there are some core sonic elements of Dub that have been with it since its inception – echo, reverb, tape effects, etc – it’s also been a genre/ethos that’s quick to embrace new methods and new applications in its 40-year lifespan. One particular thread from Dub’s inception to now goes something like this:
The 70s – the warm round sound of King Tubby and his contemporaries.
The 80s – dub in the digital era, with Prince Jammy and others messing around with 8-bit sounds and new drum machines on seminal recordings like Computerized Dub.
The 90s – dub techniques flourish in every possibly form of dance music, including the icy germanic sounds of the Basic Channel and Chain Reaction labels and artists.
The 00s – that sound expands in new directions with records from Rhythm and Sound, Deadbeat, Pole and the entire long running ~scape label.
(As I said, just one thread through the history – for a much more fleshed-out telling of the story, see Bruno Natal’s Dub Echos or read Michael Veal’s book on the subject. Or if you want to become a dub producer yourself in an instant, you’ve got to check out Infinite Wheel, still as fun now as the day it was released.)
In 2012, two net labels – who so far have given every single one of their releases away entirely for free (!!!) – are unquestionably the proud inheritors of the legacy that runs from Tubby to Scientist to Rhythm & Sound to Deadbeat & Pole. They are A Quiet Bump, from Italy, and Qunabu, from Poland. I’ll cover A Quiet Bump below and follow up on Qunabu in a few days.
A Quiet Bump is a dub and digital roots label from Italy that’s currently 28 releases deep. They’ve just recently completely redone their website (which is beautiful) and even invented a new double mountain logo for themselves. Founded by Paolo Picone and Carmine Minichiello, the label is home to some of the most innovative dub music on the planet today – following in the vein of their german forefathers but infusing a kind of good-natured Italian warmth that makes the music truly unique and special. They label has been a labor of love since its foundation in 2005 – as Picone puts it “We are very proud in general of A Quiet Bump. We come from Irpinia, a small rural region of midland of Southern Italy… the biggest village only has 15,000 people, so developing an electronic/dub label between the mountains was not easy. A big challenge. Without the label we probably would have stopped playing music many years ago… it’s a survival project, and we are really proud of it.”
To celebrate the relaunch of their website, they’ve released their first CD compilation – UNO, the first thing you can actually buy from the label (as I said, EVERYTHING beforehand from these guys has been given away for free). It’s brilliant, and features many label regulars, the label’s brightest rising star DaDub (who’s gone on to release on Stroboscopic Artefacts) and some new high-profile collaborators like Stewart Walker. Paolo Picone, who records under the name Peak and has recently moved to Berlin, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the label. His responses are best read to a soundtrack of his own music, a captivating sample of which is below.
When and how did A Quiet Bump (AQBMP) start, and how did you chose the name?
The label was founded by me (Peak) and Camine “Gamino” Minichiello (Jambassa) in 2005. It started as just a name and logo to put on the cover of our band MOU’s first CD, a fake label, just to have a greater chance of getting reviewed as an official CD and not just as a demo… a trick! We picked the name to evoke the idea of something without a big clamor, a silent and shy label, a record company for implosive releases … But by the time we’d gotten to our fourth release, we decided just to run it as a label.
Who is part of AQBMP now, and do they have other roles beyond their music work?
Paolo Picone (Mou, Peak, Pantazm) with the contribution of my booking and events agency Soundabbast.
Carmine Minichiello (Mou, Jambassa) with the contribution of his Q-Zone Recording Studio
Giovanni Roma (Black Era, Pantazm, Lich, Voodoo Tapes) with his Blackchannel Mastering Studio
Raffaele Gargiulo “Papa Lele” (Jambassa/Wiseman Dub) the graphic designer of AQBMP
Leo Giso (Mou) the man behind shop, orders and shipping…
Web site design and programming by Nico Vece – the secret sixth man of AQBMP – with his THIN studio.
If you had to choose a word or phrase for your aesthetic for people who didn’t know the label, what would you say?
Digital roots? Contemporary roots? Or maybe in a better way: NON-Conservative Dub … Something connected with ’60/’70 Jamaican roots music and our contemporary culture… just in terms of space and time – places, society, and technologies. What King Tubby would have played now in the XXI century.
How do you choose which artists to release? Are they all friends or from all around the world?
We have no specific method… although usually we personally know the artists before producing them, so the majority of AQBMP artists come from our region of Italy … all friends. But it’s not a rule, everything depends by the music … the artist’s coherence as a producer and his sound are important for us.
Why did you decide to do Uno as a CD?
The main reason was to have a more professional approach to the promotion, and also to give the people a different approach of AQBMP. UNO in Italian means ONE, a number, the first number, just like a new starting point for us… we decide to change and renovate everything.
Plus we were very tired being classified as a “Net Label” – too many times and for more and more people in the net audio scene, the word “net” has become more important than the word “label”… In recent years I think the net audio world has become a fenced-in space – yes, with a lot of nice people, nice networks, situations, and nice ideas – but cut off from the music outside, or at least with a marginal position. The container became more important than the content.
Who are some artists that you might want to work with for the label but haven’t yet?
I don’t know… They don’t yet have names! We don’t have a well-defined idea of the AQBMP sound: we are 5 people with completely different ideas about “sound”. We listen to everything from Dub Specialist to Sonic Youth, from Slayer to Moritz Von Oswald, from David Sylvian to Fela Kuti, etc… Just as some examples! So now we prefer to explore our commonalities based on low bass frequencies and downbeat… and when possible support the idea of research on modern roots.
What upcoming releases are planned?
A new release from PARA as well as VOODOO TAPES (a new dubby project by Gianni Roma/Black Era, the man behind the mastering of AQBMP)… both as digital releases and digital distribution.
To be continued…
Kid Kameleon is a San Francisco-based DJ, promoter, writer, blogger, historian, archivist, and fan of electronic music. Tune in regularly for his CREATED series on new and undiscovered music, including what to hear, and talks with artists.