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Black Devil Disco Club - In Dub

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Artist: Black Devil Disco Club

Album: In Dub

Label: Lo Recordings

Review date: Jul. 12, 2007

I'll be honest: I don't really know what 'dub' music is. Sure, I understand its roots in reggae (flattening songs into reverb-soaked, beat-heavy and melodically minimal templates for MC's to spit over), but what is it meant to signify in terms of a dance remix? Are the reggae associations relevant in that context?

The Black Devil Disco Club's In Dub is apparently a record of "dub" remixes of last year's mystery-shrouded and acclaimed 28 Later. That record and its three-decade-old predecessor, Black Devil's Disco Club, were stunning examples of European electro-disco. The uncertain genesis of the music and the identity of its creator didn't hurt the allure.

On this record, Black Devil (who is now believed to be Frenchman Bernard Fevre) takes the first six tracks on himself. His proper albums occupy a liminal terrain between 'song' and 'theme,' always locked into a consistently driving BPM and revisiting melodic ideas over the course of the records. In this sense, his songs are just different paths through essentially the same material. This makes for a more of less seamless dance mix, as well as the prospect of a remix album daunting. What exactly is left to do? Process the already heavily distorted vocals a bit more? Add the occasional synth squeal? In Dub's unfortunate answers to these questions is yes. As a result, his remixes here, while competent, are mostly redundant.

The second six tracks were given to others to mix and are noticeably divergent. The irresistible Elitechnique mix of "The Devil in Us" pushes the beat toward the hypnotic with rhythmic synth layers, while keeping most of the melodic components of of the song in tact; it's the only track on In Dub that lives up to the immediacy and decadence of the original album. Prins Thomas' mix of "On Just Foot" is surprisingly disappointing. The enjoyable Flagranti mix of "Coach Me" slows the beat slightly and molds it into a recognizable dub sound, but we're left wanting for a counter melody.

So what then is to be made of the invocation of 'dub' here? The answer to this question, if we set aside the fact that many of the tracks are simply denied sufficient melodic focal points, is not much. At best, Black Devil Disco Club In Dub imitates the mirrorball splendor of previous albums.

By Brandon Kreitler

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