Pachy García, better known as Pachyman, has just cut the dub album of his career—though it’s been a long, circuitous trip to get to this point. Pachyman grew up in San Juan, collecting old, scratchy records by the likes of King Tubby, Prince Jammy, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and Scientist. After immersing himself in the Puerto Rican reggae culture, he moved to L.A. and co-founded the destructo synth punk band Prettiest Eyes. That band constantly disregarded the “rules” of what song should be, had no traces of García’s reggae background, and really was not mellow at all.
But then, while hanging around Echo Park, Pachyman fell in with the club dub scene and reunited with his first love—dub reggae. Since then, instead of breaking music templates, he’s cut dub albums that salute the iconic late ‘70s and early ‘80s masterworks.
His third album as Pachyman, The Return Of…, is about as reverent to the dub classics as it gets. While his previous LPs continued the legacy of dub, never before has he used the tools of a dub engineer so deftly. Opening track “Big Energy” is aptly named: as the bass rolls forward with force and thundering mass, echoey drums rise and fall like the tide. “Destroy the Empire,” with its vaguely Star Wars-ish title, nods to Scientist and King Jammy’s iconic Strike Back album, while dropping sonar sound effects over twinkling keyboard tones. “Roots Train” pays homage to the dozens of reggae tracks about trains (especially Junior Murvin/Lee Perry’s “Roots Train Number One”) and conjures a bright, rollicking rhythm that feels like you are cruising down the tracks.
Almost everything here calls back to its influences, while sounding remarkably fresh. If anything, The Return Of…, shows that playing by the rules can be just as fun as breaking them.