On Doom Dub II,’ Austin’s Thor Harris Gives Doom A Dub Remix

Dub music is a paradox: it’s music made from the removal of music. In the late 1960s, Jamaican producers like Lee Scratch” Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, and others began playing with the molecular structure of sound. Starting with full-band reggae recordings as source material, the producers remixed them, questioning the very materiality of the songs themselves. What happens when you silence the vocals and melodies, leaving just drums and bass for measure after measure? What happens if you run every sound through echo machines like the Roland Space Echo? You get something new, something both ancient and futuristic sounding. Dub producers could alchemize a song out of thin air, making it haunting, odd, transcendent, even hilarious—just like life itself. The space carved out by these pioneers birthed entire musical galaxies: there would be no electronic music or rap without dub.

Thor Harris doesn’t remember exactly how he first encountered dub music, but it irrevocably sent him on another orbit. The Austin musician spent his junior high and early high school years learning the drums by studying prog rock, one of the more complex and technically challenging forms of popular music. There was nothing to do in the suburbs but practice music and ride my BMX bike,” he says. So I listened to prog rock and tried to become a monster drummer as fast as I could. But then dub landed in my ears and it was love at first listen.”

Read more of my profile of the amazing, unclassifiable weirdo Thor Harris at KUTX.

July 22, 2022