High volume in the Holy Land

Lively local reggae scene hosts dub legend Steve Gibbs.

It's fitting that one of Tel Aviv's loudest clubs is going to be hosting a performance from an artist who designs his music to be played at a seriously high volume. In their first ever visit to the Holy Land, England's Vibronics will be previewing their forthcoming album, UK Dub Story, at Tel Aviv's Koltura Club tonight (Friday). "I make our music for the bass-heavy sound systems that only really exist in the UK. So we go out to the frontiers, if you like, to bring the music to the people," explains Steve Gibbs, aka Steve Vibronics, the mastermind producer behind their rapid-fire dancefloor dub. The outfit, who have never played outside of Europe before, are excited about the prospect of performing in Israel. "I've heard about the history of reggae in Israel, and everyone comes back from shows there saying how good they were. From an artist's point of view, it's amazing to visit places like Jerusalem too," Gibbs told Billboard by phone from his studio in the multicultural city of Sheffield. Following a string of releases on the Universal Egg label, owned by reggae-trance act Zion Train, Gibbs decided to go it alone and set up his own Scoops label in 2000, named after the heavyweight "scooped" bass speakers typical of the dub sound systems that the Vibronics gear their music towards. Originally an off-shoot of 1970s reggae, dub has become a musical genre in its own right, discarding song lyrics and vocals for sub-sonic bass lines and spaced-out sound effects. "Reggae music originally comes from Jamaica, but dub finished there in the early Eighties, and it all came to London where British people got into it because it's crazy and psychedelic. It gradually seeped out from London, where there is a large Caribbean community, and spread over to Europe, which is where we now spend most of our time," says Gibbs, who has already toured in Germany, Italy and Russia this year. The Vibronics have previously worked with veteran Jamaican reggae vocalists including Ranking Joe, who performed in Israel last year, and will be coming to Israel with fresh UK-based singer, Madu, a regular in the Vibronics studio. Following the show, Gibbs will be giving a one-off workshop on digital music production techniques on Sunday (March 30) at Muzik, the School of Creation and Production in Tel Aviv, in conjunction with the British Council and the British Israeli Arts Training Scheme. "People that are interested in dub music might not realise that it moved out of Jamaica," Gibbs explains. "We want people to come and check out what the next generation are doing and hear their slant on the music." Tonight (Friday) Koltura Club, 154 Herzl, Tel Aviv, NIS 70 at the door or NIS 50 in advance from (07) 791-8883/2. The Muzik School is at 4 Ben Shemen Street; www.muzik.co.il