David Cunningham The Secret Dub Life of the Flying Lizards

Often the most interesting art is produced under the most trying conditions. Sometime in the late ’70s, David Cunningham, the leader of electro iconoclasts the Flying Lizards, was handed a tape of Jamaican sessions produced by Jah Lloyd (aka Jah Lion of Lee Perry-produced "Colombia Colly” fame). Expecting a multi-tracked master tape, he received only a mono master of the sessions and set about trying to do what he could to dub it his way. What resulted was Cunningham’s self education in filtering, subtraction and tape looping to create something resembling dub concrete. These tunes undoubtedly started off as Channel One scorchers but ended up as audio diaries, with all the introspection associated to that form. As a result, these tunes would never rule any dancehalls, but for anyone who’s ever laboured for months on a four-track cassette recorder, there’s much to respect. Sometimes the tape loops are pleasingly imprecise, and the "dub effects” are marvellously grainy. Even though creaky doors and other sound effects are added to the mix as was the style at the time in Jamaica, Cunningham’s treatments don’t seek the element of surprise in the same way that the contemporaneous African Dub series did. The deliberate nature of these experiments makes for an introspective sound. Roots fans probably won’t get into this, but for those interested in the development of home recording and electronics, this is truly musique concrete jungle. (Revolver)