- Andy Mac's shapeshifting music has always had dub in its DNA. It's in the bass weight of his playful 2011 debut for Punch Drunk, and in his use of space on the slyer Regular & Irregular from 2013. He even did a hallucinatory "Rough Dub" of Catrina Davies' "Sleeping Rough," in 2015, which sent Davies' vocal through a hall of effects mirrors. So Diving Bird 1, the first record in a new dub-focussed series for Idle Hands, isn't really a departure. Like everything Mac does, it's a subtle spin on a familiar style, favouring casual clarity over flashy studio technique.
On the opening two tracks, Mac builds simple, sloping grooves from woody kick drums, shakers and side sticks. The thin chord stabs probably once belonged to a guitar, and the measured basslines sit firmly in the sub register. There's a hint of Rhythm & Sound in "Longships"'s coolness and restraint—it's a deep head trip, whose only refrain is a thoughtful minor-key chord progression that bounces out of the gloom every minute or so. "Horse Fly (Dub)" leans towards roots, and its stilted halftime groove, overlaid with organ-like chords, shows Mac's playful side. Both are finished off with the same layer of effects, providing that dub-appropriate sense of rippling, morphing space. The closer, "10," is the odd one out. This, presumably, is where the West African field recordings mentioned in the press release come in. It's a low-key loop piece, in which muffled chords, speech and snatches of melody coalesce under the sound of a storm. First you get the rich whisper of rain, and later the thunder, distant and deep.
B1 Horse Fly (Dub)