Dub Techno in Belarus

It seems to me, that dub techno is a style that will never be truly popular, and nor it has to. Because it’s very specific and appeals to a specific kind of taste, which can be acquired through studying the history of this style and electronic dance music in general. To someone who’s not a fan of it, it may sound all the same, but dub techno fans have the ability to appreciate very small details and subtle differences. There is a chord with delay and reverb in every track, but every artist cooks it in a slightly different way. Therefore, even in the genre so defined we can have recognizable styles of one or another artist.

Some of you may be thinking, is there any dub techno in Belarus? Well, I’m here to tell you, yes there is. Not an overwhelming amount of artists or labels though.

To begin talking about dub techno in Belarus you have to start from YINYANG label, which is now defunct. Their first release appeared in 2017. So these guys were no doubt pioneers of the genre in their country. I believe it was the first dub techno label. YINYANG was started by artists known as Thomas Carmody, Khlev and their good friend Pavlik Artiushin. They have released a lot of stuff under this label, including artists like Heavenchord, Tender H, Altone and more. However at one point in history, the whole team realized that they have a bit different visions of what they want to achieve, and so they split apart. Khlev and Pavlik decided to get involved with music more suitable for dancefloors, and created the Backside Slice brand, and after that YINYANG was re-branded as Spclnch (spacelunch) by Thomas. Since then, he kept working on the label and it kept bringing new releases without slowing down at all. Since then he also released music by Liuos, Basicnoise, a vinyl record by Upwellings, Vøsne, Special Zip, Ohrwert and many more.

Now defunct, YINYANG imprint logo
Spclnch logo. A label run by Thomas Carmody

What’s great about all these people in Belarus, I mentioned above, is that they are enthusiastic about making great electronic music events. I’ve been booked to play in their events twice my self and came back with great memories. It’s cool to watch how they are doing it all out of passion for this music. There is a very nice video recording of one of their events, which includes live sets by Alexander Bogdanov and Special Zip. The latter has also released two EP’s on our label, but more on that later. You may enjoy the video:

Let’s talk about specific artists. I’ll start with Thomas Carmody, because in my mind he is the main person now in Belarus when we’re talking about dub techno. I’ve already told what he does a bit, so I’m not going to repeat my self. But he also has a solid catalog of his own productions released via his own label, others, and I’m happy to say that on Cold Tear Records as well.

Thomas Carmody

The next artist I’d like to mention is Special Zip. The interesting thing about this case, is that Special Zip released his first EP “Method” on Cold Tear Records in 2017, not on a Belarusian label. And at that time YINYANG / Spclnch weren’t even aware of this artist. I told about him to Thomas Carmody when I was playing in Minsk. So now he’s a part of Spclnch and also releases stuff on our label. I’m happy how music can sometimes connect people. Since then Special Zip also released an album called “Patterns”, which you can check out below.

Special Zip

One more artist who also cannot be ignored is Tender H. This producer is uncommonly prolific with his music. He’s been making multiple releases a year, since he released his debut EP “Dub Time” via Cold Tear Records. And it doesn’t look like he’s planning to stop. I’m intrigued to see what is ahead of Tender H.

Tender H

Let’s also talk a bit about Alexander Bogdanov. I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard much about him until quite recently. But when I listen to his productions, I understand that he might be one to watch in the next few years. So far he has one EP on Spclnch called “Contact”, that features two tracks by him and two by Special Zip, and one EP on Hello Strange called “Arcanum“.

Alexander Bogdanov

And last producer I will talk about is Khlev. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, he was involved in Belarus as a pioneer of the style together with Thomas Carmody when they started YINYANG label. He has released a lot of stuff on that label, now branded as Spclnch, which include his solo EP’s, as well as collaborations with other artists and a remixer. He now works as curator and event organizer at Backside Slice team.

Khlev

I’m sure there are more people, putting together dub techno tracks in their spare time, in their cozy bedrooms, just for fun, without any big aspirations maybe. But that’s about it for dub techno from Belarus. You couldn’t say there’s a lot of it, but it found it’s place in this country as well.

Written by Evaldas Azbukauskas

Dub Techno scene in Lithuania

Dub Techno is a genre loved by some, and to others it’s just too much of the same. But it’s a certain kind of aesthetic that fans of the genre fetishize. However, I have to admit, because the style is so defined, a lot of mediocre artists and labels appear. Yet true fans of the genre can tell the difference between a good and interesting dub techno track and a bunch of chords with a lot of reverb and delay mashed together. It cannot be just that. It’s supposed to be a subtle art of being able to put all these sounds together in patterns that make your soul dance.

It is really a niche style and there aren’t that many labels and producers who put out this kind of music. However, you will find a few names who are doing a great job at that. So my goal is to look into that. I want to see, what every country in the world has to offer in dub tech. And I will start with my own homeland – Lithuania.

When speaking of dub techno scene in Lithuania, two names pop up immediately – Giriu Dvasios and Grad U.

Let’s start with Giriu Dvasios. Ok, I won’t talk about my self in third person. It is me. Sorry for shameless self promotion, but I am one of the better known dub tech artists in Lithuania. I began this project back in 2009 and after a successful promo campaign on MySpace (a social network that was big at the time), I quickly earned my status as one of the best. The same year at summer I played in most of the electronic music festivals in my country. My most notable album was “Ratu” released in 2015 via Cold Tear Records. It became a hit in Lithuania and was mentioned in blogs like A Strangely Isolated Place, Igloo Magazine and some others.

What this album struck a chord with people about (no pun intended), is a combination of dub music and a traditional Lithuanian polyphonic chanting called “sutartinės”. Something ancient and primal about it resonated not only with Lithuanians, but with people from all around the world as well.

Giriu Dvasios performing at a club Pelėda, in Vilnius

My track “Turėja Liepa” from the album “Ratu” has accumulated over 160k views on YouTube. Which is maybe only a fraction of what the big names can get, but to me it is amazing to see. My tracks have also been played in DJ sets by Deepchord a few times, which to me is quite flattering as well.

I should also mention, that I am a founder of Cold Tear Records digital label. I started it in 2010, and since then we have released artists like Heavenchord, Echo Delta, Vejopatis, Monodisc, joergmueller and many other one’s from all around the world.

To check out more of Giriu Dvasios music, visit the bandcamp page: https://giriudvasios.bandcamp.com/

And now let’s talk about Grad U. And there’s a lot to say about this guy! Not only he’s one of the best in Lithuania, he has also got some recognition internationally. Very soon he’ll be warming up the stage for Jeff Mills in Strasbourg. He also has released a record on Echocord and made a remix for STL’s vinyl release on the same label. These achievements are probably a dream of any up and coming dub techno producer.

Grad U playing a DJ set in Klaipėda, Lithuania

And that’s not the end of a story. I have a big respect for him, because I see him as someone who just gets shit done, no matter what. He is running two labels – Redscale and Greyscale. With Redscale Grad_U releases vinyl records with his own productions only. And Greyscale features digital, CD and Vinyl. He is a powerhouse. Grad U’s productions and live performances are focused on using analog hardware, but he is also a very experienced DJ.

To check out everything Grad U has been doing, visit his label’s bandcamp: https://scale-limited.bandcamp.com/

Another name worth mentioning is Vejopatis. He released his debut album called “Taškas” back in 2012 via Cold Tear Records. Since then he was consistently bringing new stuff. However, his sound has been moving further and further away from what you’d call dub techno, yet the dubby chords and some of the dub aesthetics are still there. His most successful album so far was “Versmės”, released in 2016 on Cold Tear Records.

Vėjopatis has performed his music live in many summer festivals here in Lithuania and other venues and parties during the rest of the year. I’d describe him as an exceptionally creative composer. He doesn’t just make dub tech tracks, he makes complex compositions, with arrangements that not only make your soul dance, he brings you to some sort of a fantasy land.

Vejopatis performing live

To hear more of his music visit his bandcamp: https://vejopatis.bandcamp.com/

Let’s keep moving. You cannot talk about dub techno in Lithuania without mentioning Sraunus. A super talented producer. His productions to me seem to lean more towards deep techno and ambient, yet the dub tech aesthetics are still there.

Sraunus performing live

Seeing him occasionally performing live in various events around Lithuania is not a surprise.

He has released a couple of albums on Grad U’s label Greyscale, but it seems like he’s mostly focused on putting out his stuff via his own bandcamp page: https://sraunus.bandcamp.com/music

Another name worth mentioning here is Vytis. Born and raised in Lithuania, but currently based in Ireland. He debuted on Cold Tear Records in 2012, with a full length album “Mind Voyage“, but really stormed into the scene in 2013 when he released his album “Deepchord Avenue“.

At the time he won the love of many dub techno fans around the world with his endless creativity and productivity. However, after that he went away for personal reasons. But it seems he’s coming back though. In 2019 he released a new album on Cold Tear Records – “Silver Field Dubs“, and re-released his old album “Gliding“, which was previously presented under the now defunct DeepinDub imprint. There’s a new album coming up from him for the next year.

Recently, a new name appeared in the Lithuanian dub techno scene. It’s dubonautik. Currently based in UK. Great artist, very technology oriented. His live sets often feature a complicated hybrid of software and hardware.

Dubonautik hasn’t been releasing a lot of music, but he has recently put out a mini album on Greyscale called “Hightened State“.

And now let’s talk about Echo Delta. He might be the most secretive artist of all reviewed in this article. Yet what he was able to achieve is remarkable. He debuted in 2014 with an album called “Digital Lifeforms” on Cold Tear Records. Despite it being his first release ever, it became one of the most successful one’s on the label, and still is.

After that he released two more albums: “Blu Eon” and “Within“. Also a collaboration EP with Mikrokristal called “Summer Rain“. All of them, more or less very appreciated by the fans of his sound, which you could describe as atmospheric, floating and chill.

Echo Delta playing live at Revolution festival in Lithuania

Echo Delta has not done many live performances, but he is a good DJ.

I believe that’s it for the Lithuanian dub techno scene. I hope you enjoyed the read. I’m also planning to review Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, United States, Greece and any other countries that have at least a few names to mention in the dub techno world. So stay tuned!

Written by Evaldas Azbukauskas

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