Swiss band DUB SPENCER & TRANCE HILL buck Yuletide conventions by delivering dub syncretised with rock and electronic music.
SILENT NIGHT, JINGLE BELLS and the nine other tracks on CHRISTMAS IN DUB offer plenty of spacey innovation. A melodica, in the spirit of Augusto Pablo, conspires with guitar, banjo and organ in bringing an organic presence to the stylized dub.
Last Christmas seems only moments away, but that hasn’t stopped these four doughty Swiss musicians from decking the halls in their studio, getting the bass speakers to rumble and the loops to trill. In dulci dub jubilo! In their low-slung reindeer racing sleigh, DUB SPENCER & TRANCE HILL glide through the night of nights with twelve box-fresh cover versions pumping through their speakers, utterly unafraid of overworking a cliché.
Statistically, “love” is probably the most common subject in song lyrics, and many trite lines have been dedicated to it – closely followed by “Christmas”. Now, our Zurich/Lucerne collective have lavished their charming, futuristic sound elements on the topic, pounding through this winter wonderland, hovering somewhere between pop, dub and surreal electronics, liberally spiced with retro roots rocker attitude with a lavish scattering of warm analogue delay and reverb effects. This album sits skilfully right at the intersection of elevator muzak and elegant dub, and it has a very simple, unpretentious message: without a groove there’s no dub – and no Christmas either.
For some of the tracks, it’s only the second time round that you realise which Christmas song is being covered here. Here’s a tip: the bass line is crucial, as it is usually the instrument that plays the Christmassy themes. “Never change a winning song”, thought DUB SPENCER & TRANCE HILL, instead opting to give it a much slacker treatment. The scent of fir branches, incense, Northern Lights and interesting biscuits comes together with a warm Hammond organ, funky guitars, rich drum grooves and a bass that is practically subsonic to create an intelligent, mischievous and leftfield masterpiece. Following their impressive encounters with artists such as William S. Burroughs, Lee Scratch Perry, Dieter Meier and Ken Boothe, the internationally highly lauded Swiss band have now added their idiosyncratic spin on Christmas, treating Santa to a dub makeover with neofolk collages in reindeer jumpers and minimal dub with space for recorders. Christmas simply couldn’t sound any better or more flamboyant!