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Beat Pharmacy: Wikkid Times (2008) April 1, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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Beat Pharmacy: Wikkid Times

Beat Pharmacy: Wikkid Times

First, there was reggae. Then dub was abstracted from reggae: removing a lot of the vocals and melody, focusing on the song as a collection of sounds that could be played with. Then there was dub techno, a stripped down form of electronic music that borrowed a lot of the ideas and the feel of dub reggae. And here we come full circle, as dub techno comes back to the song and the singer.

It’s not a new idea; the German techno production team Basic Channel moved from using a dub approach to techno to recording more recognizable reggae tracks with vocalists on albums like With the Artists, released in 2003 under the name Rhythm & Sound and featuring a number of reggae singers.

So, when I saw a review the other day of a Beat Pharmacy album, I went to emusic to see if it was there. And it was. I downloaded it immediately after checking out the samples.

I don’t know much about Brendan Moeller, the person who is Beat Pharmacy, though I’d seen the name mentioned occasionally (he remixed a track by dubstep producer Appleblim not long ago). Based on this album, I have some homework to do. Wikkid Times is built on a dub techno core (with the occasional house music beats) but it’s not abstract and minimalistic. It’s a collection of reggae from the future, an electronic sound that makes for a valid electronic reggae style not much like the electronic dancehall sound that supplanted roots reggae in Jamaica.

The songs feature a variety of vocalists, including Paul St. Hilaire, who’s worked with a variety of dub techno and dubstep producers, and the Spaceape, who collaborated with Kode9 on the already classic dubstep album Memories of the Future.

Wikkid Times isn’t a perfect album; like a lot of dub techno, many of the songs go on for longer than they really need to (the eleven songs here take 78 minutes to get through), and there are moments when the dub techno/house crossover can start sounding a little cheesy. But ultimately that doesn’t really detract from what is overall a solid and entertaining album, one that’s warmer and more accessible than a lot of the music in this subgenre.

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