It's funny how a little island can have such a large influence on culture. I mean -- Jamaica is about one quarter the size of the state i live in, and although Georgia is big compared to New England states, it's not that big... Which makes it seem very odd to me that Jamaica has had such a big cultural effect.
Take dub for example. This musical genre started off as a series
of studio experimentations in Jamaica, and has since become
a worldwide phenomenon. Dub-influenced artists reviewed here
on EvilSponge include The
Orb (UK), Loscil (Canada),
and Nobukaza Taekmura
(Japan). For some reason that little burst of experimentalism
in a little island in the Caribbean has spread all over the
planet and influenced many people.
To the list of those affected by dub, please add Echobase Soundsystem. This band is fascinating to me in that they are a dub band, whereas the artists i mentioned above are all mostly electronic. Heck, the gurus of the dub genre (Mad Professor, Lee Scratch Perry, King Tubby) are in a sense electronic artists: the studio is their instrument. (To further the analogy with current wave dub-influenced acts from around the world: the studio is their laptop.) But not Echobase Soundsytem -- these guys are an honest-to-goodness band, with guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards.
Which is another thing i find very wierd. I mean, dub is a studio based art, and yet here is a band who play it live. Sort of a reverse process.... Anyway, not only do Echobase Soundsystem perform dub live, but they do it well. I saw them at The EARL back in February, and they were really impressive live. The music sauntered and echoed and flowed just like good dub should. I was so impressed that i purchased this album.
And it's rather good as well, even though on record it is hard to tell which echoes and effects are done live and which ones are actual studio wizardry. Nonetheless, fans of dub would do well to seek out a copy of this disc.
There are seven tunes on this disc, packed into about 46 minutes. A pretty good length, and the songs tend to be longer, as they should within the dub genre. The tunes are constructed out of spacey guitarwork, light jazzy drumming, powerful bass riffage, and melodica/keyboards. It is fairly genre typical, so there should be no real surprises. Still, they manage to pack a lot of references into their sound: from contemporary laptoptronica (heard slightly on Niko), to Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks (heard in the guitar and keys of Zentum), to UB40 (Dem Have gets a really awesome beat going that reminds me of the spacier moments of UB40's Signing Off), to current post-rock (a lot of the drumming reminds me of what i hear from the drummer in Do Make Say Think), to spaced-out ambience (the lovely album closer, Dervish).
So if you like dub, i highly recommend this album. Hopefully we will be hearing more from these people in the future. And if you like dub and have the chance to see them live, I highly recommend doing so.