Time Out NY - August 2002
Rob Paine's Worship Recordings pushes the intoxicating sounds of dub-house to a bottom-heavy peak
By Bruce Tanturn
House music has long relied on the Jamaica?born art of dub technique for a large part of the genre's appeal; there’s no better way to enhance the out of body sensation of a truly intense house session than a dose of spliff friendly, echoey effects. Few house imprints employ the stripped down, effects laden ways of dub better than the Philadelphia based Worship Recordings, which recently released WOR.C0.01, a collection of the label's echo heavy music. The tracks were mixed by label leader Rob Paine who, on Saturday 3, will join the rest of the Worship crew in taking over Brooklyn's underground music headquarters, Halcyon, for a night of blunted beats.
West Coast imprints such as Grayhound and Tango are the labels most often associated with dubby house, but Worship stretches the style to its limits. "I was influenced by those West Coast labels,
"I think the music I make, and everything we release, kind of takes the sound a lot further," says the 30 year old Paine. Indeed, the label's music, produced by Rocket,
Succulent, Solomonic Sound (Paine himself and partner Zack Eberz) and others, are positively dripping with swooshing reverb, heavy delay, deeper than deep bass and snippets of Rasta tinged vocals. The reggae connection carries over to the label's imagery, with Rasta iconography like the Lion of Judah and the Seal of King Solomon adorning each record. (Paine and Eberz also run straight reggae parties in Philly and elsewhere.)
Paine's love for the music dates back to his childhood days. "Reggae is the sound I love?it's just running through my blood. When I was in the fourth or fifth grade," he says, ,'my older brother's friends would make me these rnix tapes of groups like the English Beat, the Police and the Clash. I loved those mixes, but it wasn't until much later that I realized that they all were heavily reggae influenced." By the time Paine was in I 1th grade, he was fully into real deal reggae, and he still makes regular record shopping excursions to Kingston.
Paine, who's proficient on sax, spent the early '90s working the South Jersey and Philly club circuit with a ska?funk band called Hyperactive. He then enrolled at Temple University as a jazz improv major, but his education was cut short by a car accident in'94. "It knocked my two front teeth out, the top ones," he says. "It fucked up my embouchure, which is how you hold a wind instrument in your mouth. I couldn't play anymore." Luckily, he had been deejaying a bit on the side. "I figured I'd better start spinning full on, because it was all I had at the time, musically speaking. That led me to where I am today, so I look at the accident as Jah's work, even though it was a horrible thing."
Paine had picked up studio skills while working with Hyperactive and began laying down his dub heavy house tracks. He sent out a few demos, but the music's deep excursions into reggae seemed to scare some labels? "I realized that we were going to have to put out the music ourselves," Paine says. "One of my best friends, Dan McGehean, had the financial means to set up a label, and I had the material and the ideals, so we were like, 'Let's just do it!' " The Paine produced Christian Street Princess EP was released in '98; that record, and the 13 that have followed, have found favor with a diverse array of house jocks, ranging from tech house duo Inland Knights to spiritual house guru Joe Clausell. Worship has even been welcomed into the progressive house camp; Paine claims Sasha and Digweed as fans, and a Solomonic Sounds remix of Universal Agents leads off the latest Bedrock mix CD, compiled by prog kingpin Chris Fortier.
Even Worship's recording studio landlord is a fan, which means a lot: He's none other than the veteran Philly producer songwriter Kenny Gamble (of Gamble & Huff, who defined the soulful Sound of Philadelphia). "The first time he came over here, he was like, 'All right, who's the guy making all that music?' I'm like, 'Oh, shit, I'm sorry, I can turn it down.' He goes, 'No, man, it sounds great!' It's beautiful knowing that even someone like that can get into what we're doing."
With all they have going for them, one might think the Worship crew is raking in the dough, but Paine claims that's not the case. "Everything we make goes into equipment and paying bills," he says, "and it's not like we sell lots in the first place, maybe a couple of thousand per release. Even that Bedrock money had to go directly to paying rent. We're broke, but at least we're feeling the love."
Worship Recordings takes over Halcyon on Saturday 3.
WOR.CD.01 is out now.