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Review: Speedy Wunderground Celebrate 10 years with Boldest Artistic Statement to Date on ‘The Dubs – Vol 1’

Speedy Wunderground Celebrate 10 years with Boldest Artistic Statement to Date on ‘The Dubs – Vol 1’.

Founded in 2013, Speedy Wunderground is firmly established as a label that champions the growth of innovative left-field music.Set up by producer Dan Carey, with the help of Alexis Smith and Pierre Hall, the staggering growth of this label’s reach is truly impressive when faced with its discography. Whilst releasing fully formed bodies of work by artists including Squid, Honeyglaze and The Lounge Society, it’s the Speedy single that’s perhaps the most intriguing. The label is responsible for releasing some of the earliest, if not debut, singles from musicians not unfamiliar to the pages of So Young – Black Country, New Road, black midi, Kae Tempest, PVA, to name just a few. Most of these singles are readily available to stream through Speedy’s annual compilations, but what these collections have failed to represent are the B-Sides – each track upon release was reworked into an adjacent dub remix by Carey’s moniker Savage Gary/Mr. Dan.

To celebrate Speedy’s 10th year in action, twenty of Carey’s favourite B-Sides will be released as physical box consisting of ten 7″ singles. ‘Speedy Wunderground – The Dubs – Vol 1′ follows suit with other vinyl releases from the label, limited to just 250 physical copies. The compilation is indicative of the breadth of musicians that both the label and Dan Carey himself have worked with, using dub to bridge disparate artists like moa moa, deep tan and Pynch together.

The opening track is a clear highlight –  a hefty reworking of Archie Bronson Outfit’s ‘I Was a Dead Duck.’ The original Kraut-esque rhythm section and discernible lyrics are replaced with fragmented instrumental chops and manipulated vocal echoes that resonate with the production methods of dub legend Lee Scratch Perry. Perry would often add cuts and effects live in studio, resonating with the on-the-fly production methods of Carey himself (“Recording of all records will be done in one day and finish before midnight”). Perry’s signature electro-wooziness is particularly resonant on Telegram’s ‘Mr. Dan’s Inside Out Dub’ and DEWEY’s ‘Mr. Dan Dub Me Over,’ which have the sonic effect of a slow-cooker in the best way. It’s unsurprising that Lee Scratch Perry himself gave Carey a good luck blessing after working together.

When one looks at credits from Carey – Fontaines D.C., Wet Leg, Kylie Minogue – dub isn’t the first genre that springs to mind. However, this box set highlights the producer’s lengthy schooling in the genre. In his twenties, Carey was educated by soundsystem creator and roots pioneer Nick Manasseh, who always advised ‘at least three space echoes, echo on everything, never leave the desk alone, cut things in and out all the time.’ This ethos can be heard across the board, most notably in the vocal treatment on ‘Savage Gary’s Robber Dub Dub Remix’ – a previously unheard reworking of Honeyglaze’s ‘Burglar’ – and on more more traditionally formatted dub inspired tracks like Peluche’s ‘Mr. Dan’s Gammy Eye Dub.’ In this light, some highlights on the album are when Carey goes down the heavy dubtronica route, with tracks by jazz/punk outfit Melt Yourself Down and Scottibrains which could easily be pumped on a late night out. But not every track is so radically different from the original – the very subtle instrumental differences on Kae Tempest and Loyle Carner’s ‘Guts’ versus ‘Mr Dan’s Balloon’ dub make you want to go back and forth between the two with a fine-tooth comb. 

Even if the comp is dub focused, what’s so intriguing is the way in which each track still stands as representation of the original artist’s music – the ethereal vocals of PVA or the analogue methods followed by Pynch are isolated and emphasised to hold true to the original track. These twenty singles demonstrate how wide Speedy Wunderground’s net has been cast over the past 10 years. Though perhaps more confident behind the desk, this compilation is as much each individual artist’s as it is Carey’s. Just as a musician establishes a thread through their album, Carey does this through his futuristic and varied inversions of dub. Because of this, we’d recommend listening to the whole compilation before diving into original versus remix comparisons.

As a whole, ‘The Dubs – Vol 1′ serves as an artistic statement on behalf of Speedy Wunderground from its advent, into the future. It reminds listeners of the label’s foundations and growth, and perhaps serves as a nudge to get those upcoming 7” releases from bands like Hot Face and Tummyache to avoid having to pay the hefty £120 this box set will cost you. Is it worth it? Probably.

‘The Dubs – Vol 1’ is out on August 4th and you can order your box set here.

Speedy Wunderground will celebrate 10 Years at Village Underground in September. The party will feature DJ sets and performances from Speedy almuni, with the full lineup TBA. Get tickets here.

Check out the So Young x Speedy Wunderground Collaboration Tee and Jumper here.

The new issue of So Young is out now. Grab a copy in print here or read the digital edition below.