From Porto Rico and now based in Los Angeles, Pachy García aka Pachyman is a multi-instrumentalist reviving the classic roots dub reggae sound of the 1970s and early 1980s. Originally a drummer and vocalist with synth-punk band Prettiest Eyes, Pachy García has gradually returned to his first love of reggae which he discovered through the Puerto Rican scene.
Dub stalwarts like Lee “Scratch” Perry, King Tubby or Scientist all pioneered multi-track layering and remixing techniques long before the advent of digital technology to release a multitude of classic albums. The raw, instrumental-only sound that was both organic and futuristic at the same time is now fondly referred to as a golden era for reggae music.
Expanding on and refining recording techniques already explored on In Dub (2019) and At 333 House (2020) and released on ATO Records on 13 august 2021 last, The Return of …Pachyman pays further homage to that era with a flawless collection of twelve original instrumental compositions.
The original dub style was heard on 7’’ B-sides as instrumental “versions” of songs whereby vocals were removed, sections of the track were isolated – starting with drums and basslines of course – and subsequently reworked through a (sometimes basic) mixing desk with added effects. The DIY trial and error techniques pioneered by King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry in the 1970s turned into a spellbinding craftsmanship which often ventured into psychedelia and experimental music, anticipating hip-hop, the sampling culture as well as early ambient and electronic music. The recording studio became both a magic cauldron and an instrument in its own right, generating in the process a signature sound revered to this day by musicians, DJs and sound engineers alike.
None of Pachyman’s instrumentals are based on existing songs. Yet, all are “written, produced, performed and mixed” by Pachy García, thus giving the musician total control over the output. Performing the songs either in the studio or in concert involves a live mix of all the instrumental parts in true dub fashion, meaning that every performance will sound different.
From the very first reverb-drenched MC-style introduction down to the song titles (“Destroy the Empire”, “Midcity Rockers”, “Roots Train”, “Space Station” etc.) and the sleeve design, The Return of…Pachyman is packed with quotes from classic dub albums such as King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown (1976), Super Ape (1976) and Return of the Super Ape (1978), Augustus Pablo: Original Rockers (1979), Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires (1981), Scientist & Prince Jammy Strike Back (1982) or Scientist Wins the World Cup (1982) to name but a few.
A lot of these albums were either recorded at Kingston’s Channel One Recording Studio and featured performances by house bands such as The Revolutionaries (including Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare) and later on the Roots Radics, or at Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Black Ark studio with house band The Upsetters.
Recycling the same production techniques and the lo-fi sound heard on these classics (echo, reverb, high pass filters, modulation, cymbal crashes, sirens and alarms, bleeps, drops and miscellaneous overdubs), The Return of…Pachyman is nevertheless replete with original killer bass lines and an entirely new repertoire.
The melodica heard on “Midcity Rockers” nods to the recordings of Augustus Pablo who is forever associated with the instrument while Sunset Sound remembers the distinctive keyboard sound of Jamaican musician Jackie Mittoo. Both sides conclude with instrumentals featuring guest musicians. The trombone of Ruben Durazo can be heard on the eponymous track while the presence of Carlos Mercader (rhythm guitar) and Benson Pagan (lead guitar) lend “El Benson” with a completely different jazz-soul vibe reminiscent of some Kool & the Gang ballads.
My music is a space vibration. Lee “Scratch” Perry
Much more than a nostalgic retro-dub project, Pachy García’s personal quest to achieve an old school reggae sound stems from a purely aesthetic choice and a wholehearted devotion for the signature Caribbean flow. In the true spirit of Afrofuturism, The Return of…Pachyman connects past sounds with a forward-thinking approach. “With this project, I was looking to make positive music and radiate good energy” says Pachy García. Since the launch of the LP, Pachyman has toured the world either as a solo act or playing support for Khruangbin and Altın Gün while his latest 7’’ El Sonido Nuevo de Pachyman was released in March 2022.