It’s hard to be in a bad mood when Abundance, a collection of ten thumpy dub tracks by Denver’s Death by Dub, graces the turntable. The songs draw the listener into a galaxy of reverbs, echoes and other audio effects that complement and enhance the music, inviting replays and making listening an immersive experience.
Abundance, which contains tracks from the Resurrection EP, unreleased songs from the Resurrection recording session and previously released, uncollected singles, is available now on Color Red Records. You can also hear the music live at membership-based Knew Conscious on Friday, August 5.
“It’s essentially a compilation of the stuff we recorded up to that point,” says bassist Dan Africano, promising more tracks in the future. “There’s stuff that I’ve got mixed that is slated for later release that we’ve done since all that stuff came together.”
Africano, who also plays in Elephant Wrecking Ball and other bands, founded Death by Dub a few years ago with members from another group, the Denver Reggae Social Club, a band that performed mostly cover songs. Death by Dub plays a mostly instrumental, bass- and drum-heavy vein of dub reggae that’s as good for dancing as it is for passive head-nodding. Songs can vary from an enchanting, mellow sound to a more energetic vibe, as in the album opener, “Truth & Justice.”
He adds that releasing a full-length album as opposed to singles will have a greater impact on listeners: “It’s this full statement of music that will hopefully reach a brand-new audience that doesn’t know about all the music we released up until now through the single format. At least, that’s the hope.”
Africano moved to Breckenridge a few years back to ride out the pandemic, but has since returned to Denver, where he has found a reinvigorated music scene and plenty of work. The pandemic made for a rough couple of years for professional musicians, and that reality was no different for Death by Dub, who had trouble getting together during the height of COVID.
“It was quite limited over the COVID time,” he reflects. “Once things started opening back up, every single musician I know, myself included, has just been over-the-top busy.”
Africano, who has been delighted by the amount of live music and opportunities that have returned to the city, spent much of the summer as the touring bassist for Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation as it played gigs across the United States, a large chunk of Europe and finally in Cairo, Egypt. (He also saw Death by Dub's Resurrection EP available on British Airways' flight entertainment system.)
“It’s very welcome, because we were all essentially out of work for a while,” he says. “Everybody is reveling in all the work that has just flooded the gates.”
As far as the band's sound goes, Africano notes that an intriguing aspect of dub is the addition of audio effects to organic instruments. Some of the most recognizable aspects of the genre is its use of spacey echoes and heavy reverberation.
“Reggae has always been this nourishing feeling for me that really brings me back to my youth,” he says. “It’s always the music that feels the most home for me.”
He says he traces that feeling to high school, when he loved punk rock and other energetic strains of music. His older brother introduced him to reggae, specifically Lee “Scratch” Perry — a pioneer in dub music during the 1970s — and he was immediately hooked.
“The sounds and the crazy sort of sonic expressions I heard were like nothing I’d ever heard before,” he recalls. “It really struck a chord with me. ... You can’t be pissed off listening to that kind of music.”
Dub reggae puts Africano's heart at ease, nestling him into a comfort zone that he always seems to return to, regardless of what he might be doing professionally.
“Any gig I might be hired to do, like a funk fusion thing or a jazz gig or even a top 40 wedding band thing,” he says. “No matter what, when I get back to the reggae wheelhouse, I’m completely home.”
Death by Dub, 11 p.m. Friday, August 5, Knew Conscious Collective, 2350 Lawrence Street. Tickets are $30; a membership to the collective is required to buy a ticket. Abundance is available at color-red.com.