With most of the circumstances under which I would listen to pop music no longer available to me—going somewhere on the bus, hanging with friends—my musical tastes have gravitated back toward ambient, ambient techno, and one of my personal favorites: dub techno.
It sounds like a fake name your mom might make up to describe something kids would be dancing to, but dub techno is the bees' knees: miles-wide chords that feel like sinking your head into a nebula, stoned beats that drag you along with them for as long as you let them.
Start with the distinctly Northwestern sounds of Vancouver, B.C.’s Loscil, whose albums First Narrows and Endless Falls feel like a cold rain against your window. For a gentle daytime drift, seek out Iceland’s Yagya and his Rigning from 2009, or shell out some cash on Bandcamp for Brock Van Wey’s White Clouds Drift On and On. Gaze out at the city at night with Deepchord Presents: Echospace’s Liumin, recorded with found sounds from Tokyo.
But the gnarled, twisted roots of the genre lie with Germany's Basic Channel, whose Radiance EP is the closest musical approximation to being dropped into the ocean unexpectedly. The duo's 2003 release w/ the Artists, issued as Rhythm & Sound and recorded with an international cast of singers, explains how this nebulous music connects to Jamaican dub. It's one of the most respectful cross-cultural collab- orations ever—and it slaps.