Germany has an impressive, almost counterintuitive, record of mixing dub with electronic music, from Basic Channel’s icy minimal techno to Pole’s spectral glitch. Move D—aka Heidelberg’s David Moufang—is a lesser-known figure in this line of Teutonic dub explorers, working the crossover between dub and house music on tracks like 2006’s “Silk Dub,” and employing subtly shifting repetition, echo, and space to devious effect.
The songs on Building Bridges, Moufang’s debut album for Will Saul’s Aus Music, were recorded between 1999 and 2019, and they largely share “Silk Dub”’s mixture of undulating 4/4 beats, echoing effects, and basslines that sit somewhere the funk imperative of disco and the spacey wanderings of dub. Within these limited parameters, however, Moufang manages to wring impressive variation, from the dubbed-out French touch of “Cycles” to “Perpetual State,” where house music is a dilated, glitchy memory found in the suggestion of a drum pattern.
It helps that Moufang’s sound is warm and welcoming by nature, a mixture of light melodic touches and gently pulsating drums that reeks of indolence on a sunny day. There is something particularly well rounded about this album—a smoothly tactile quality that glides like well-varnished wood under stockinged feet. Only on the title track, a collaboration with the American house producer Fred P, does this sonic benevolence spill over into something cloying, as a voice makes banal pronouncements about people coming together that end up sounding trite, to the detriment of the crystalline drum production.
Luckily, this doesn’t detract too much from an extremely elegant album that makes its mark with whispered tonal shifts rather than bothersome handbrake turns. “Cycles” is a wonderful musical tease, distilling a sense of perpetual motion out of a handful of subtly modulating sonic ideas and a rippling bassline, like peak Motorbass; “One Small Step” (featuring Jonah Sharp and Thomas Fehlmann) is a leisurely paddle of guitar noodle, submersed bass, and percussive sound effects that could soundtrack a dolphin’s waking dream; and “Perpetual State” suggests house music slowly dissolving over a crackling open fire, helped along by a spidery suggestion of melody.
This strain of caramel-smooth production has little to do with the raw speaker-rattling sound of classic 1970s dub productions. But what Move D has done, much like Basic Channel, Pole and the Orb before him, owes plenty to the genre’s exploration of the spaces between infinite shades of reverb. Building Bridges represents the exquisite suggestion of dub, the airborne arrival of the Jamaican sound upon German shores in a breezy triumph of experimentation.