One of the more crucial elements of UK music culture that warrants mentioning is the way that fans get exposed to a healthy cross-section of genres in a way that can seem improbable to an American. Indeed, just trying to parse out the past century of black music in London warrants its own book and it's something that has manifested differently across the country, with Bristol's role as an important trade port having opened it up to a soundsystem culture all its own. In a Fact Mag piece looking at the current bumper crop of leftfield dub labels like Bokeh Versions, ZamZam Sounds, and Boomarm Nation, Daniel Davies (aka Ossia) of the No Corner label notes, "The dub side of things naturally creeps in and out of No Corner stuff...I don’t think it’s always a dominant feature or anything, but it’s an infectious thread that will reach out to so many different avenues of music that we’re involved in.” It follows an observation by Bokeh's Miles Opland that touches on how the culture of Bristol has been such where one can see dub's influence on shoegaze and post-punk acts in a way that's "not a big deal."
I first encountered the label a couple years back when I scooped up a cheap copy of the 2014 vinyl pressing of Filter Dread's pirate-radio-fever-dream Space Loops that the label had initially released on cassette. Conceived as something of a loveletter to the pirate radio stations that served as principle accelerators and articulators of the country's endlessly developing tradition of urban dance music, it's a cross-genre essay that serves as a neat summary of the label's post-genre ethos--where releasing noise-saturated dub poetry, post-grime ambient, and dystopian electro is truly NBD. A member of the eleven-person Young Echo crew, Ossia has been releasing dark and noisy dancehall for labels like Blackest Ever Black and Berceuse Heroique since 2015, with the latter releasing his exceptional post-everything track "Tumult" with a dread-filled Lurka remix on the flip last year. Where that track pulled liberally from the past while fixing its eyes squarely on the future, his collaboration with technoid dub maestro Andy Mac was a stunning three-track dive into dub and dancehall's recent history.
Standout track "Soup Riddim" starts predictably enough with an airy trad dub beat laced with some FX before the rhythm engine shifts gear and the addition of two snare hits to the beat give it a distinctively early 90s-feeling when the ongoing dialogue between dancehall and hip-hop was more than fruitful--indeed, one of the perks of living in NYC is stumbling upon dollar bin artifacts from that particularly fertile moment where dancehall absorbed the twin shocks of house and hip-hop. Constructed around a billowing arrangement of sampled vocals that undulates back and forth across the mix, it's the type of simple-seeming beat that warrants endless listens or spins, so mighty is the groove it rides. By the time the fourth minute comes to pass, the beat has died back down to its dub beginnings as the duo pepper their coda with dubwise sounds that they effortlessly massage into the skin now forming on the surface of the soup. Classy and groovy in all the right ways.