Echo Base Soundsystem
Echo Base Soundsystem (Seedknowledge)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Sept. 12, 2003
Echo Base Soundsystem(Seedknowledge) From his small, home studio in Kingston, Jamaica, 30-odd years ago, Osbourne Ruddock, aka King Tubby, pioneered the instrumental remixes of popular reggae songs. To the ganja-enhanced sensibilities of avid dance-hall fans, this musical sensation was known as dub. Its wake has rippled through pop music worldwide ever since and is the crucial element in the self-titled debut by Austin's Echo Base Soundsystem. You wouldn't call this a reggae album per se, although it certainly shares some of the same ingredients. Deep, throbbing basslines are an omnipresent undercurrent, and the spirit of dub master Augustus Pablo with his eerie, Eastern-tinged melodica are never far away. Whiffs of electronica float throughout, while the incessant beats of reggae's cousin, drum 'n' bass, occasionally kick-start the tempo from its leisurely moorings. Reverbed surf guitar licks find their way into the mix at crucial times as do periodic echo and feedback effects. Nothing seems hurried, and each of the seven instrumentals evolves at its own organic pace. This is as much a dreamy, chill-out excursion as anything else. Its the seamless combination of all these disparate elements interwoven into a mystical sound pastiche that's perhaps most impressive. King Tubby would be proud.