While the “dub” term is largely a reference to similar effects used in dub reggae, it’s easiest to think of modern dub techno as a style of techno that heavily employs delay and reverb effects, often for the purpose of creating a “space” or atmosphere. This is often most noticeable in what people call “dub chords,” a common feature of dub techno tracks that consists of (typically minor) chords that seem to echo around the listener’s head. Dub techno is largely concerned with the “space” which sound occupies, and on texture.
Most people credit the invention of dub techno to Basic Channel – a duo out of Berlin consisting of Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. But other pioneers include Deepchord (Rod Modell) and Echospace (Rod Modell and Steven Hitchell), originating from Chicago and Detroit.
It’s worth noting that “dub techno” can be a contentious term – many of the top artists in this genre prefer the term “deep techno” or refuse to give any sort of genre labeling to their music whatsoever. There are lots of varying opinions on how closely related contemporary “dub techno” is to dub reggae, or even to the original “dub” style of mixing tracks that is associated with this subgenre of reggae. As such, it’s often a good idea to clarify what you mean when you are calling a track “dubby” or “dubbed-out.” Personally, we don’t think that you need to be a dub reggae connoisseur in order to appreciate or understand dub techno. But we’ve ran into a few people who disagree.
To further complicate things, dubstep has recently seen a massive rise in popularity. Dubstep is a genre that arose in the UK in the late 90s and has been spreading ever since. But what is the relation between dub techno and dubstep? Historical origins aside, there aren’t that many sonic similarities between the two genres. While both are notable for their use of reverb effects, the differences that usually exist in tempo, drum patterns, basslines, and song structure really make these two genres stand apart. Of course, dubstep is an extremely diverse genre of music, so some styles of dubstep might be closer to dub techno than others.