Dub Echoes
July 23, 2009

Label Soul Jazz Films
Format DVD - Region Free (PAL/NTSC Dual Disc)
Languages English
Subtitles English, French and Portugese
Length 100 minutes (approx.)
Producer/Director Bruno Natal
The DVD 'Dub Echoes' is an excellent documentary that tries to trace the origins of Jamaican dub music and itís influence on the development of hip hop, rap, drum 'n' bass and electronic music. It shows how dub ended up influencing pretty much of the music we hear today, from electronic music to hip-hop, transforming the studio in a musical instrument and giving way to all of sonic experiments. One could say that this film marks both the 40th anniversary of the invention of Dub and the 20th anniversary of the death of King Tubby, the genius legend of this far-reaching musical revolution. 'Dub Echoes' was filmed between 2004 and 2008 in Kingston, London, New York, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The movie (original from 2007) was filmed, directed and produced by the Brazilian filmer Bruno Natal who received a string of awards for this excellent movie.

The DVD is split into two parts. First there's the Jamaican part. A little but more than half an hour of Jamaican (music) history, told by Bunny 'Striker' Lee, Sly Dunbar, Dennis Bovell, Steve Barrow, Steve Katz, Lee Perry and Mad Professor. It is the most interesting part of the DVD for reggae adepts. The second part is about the development of dub music around the world and its influence on several music styles, artists and producers. Very interesting, especially if you're familiar with the contemporary dub scene. Mind you, we're not saying that this part isn't worthwhile watching, but from an historical point of view part one is far more interesting.

Part one starts with the rise and development of the sound system scene in Jamaica and ends with the story of the rise of the deejay. In between stories about 'versions', U Roy reminiscing about his part in the development of dub, Bunny Lee's memories of his career and a astonishing tour of old master tapes, strictly Jamaican style! Lee 'Scratch' Perry talk a lot, but fails to give crucial info, but it sure is interesting to listen to him explaining why he had to burn down the Black Ark studios. King Jammy pays tribute to the man who made him an excellent engineer and successful producer.

Part two switches to New York, England and Brazil. Musicians and producers tell about their feelings towards dub and how they changed the face and style of dub music. It explains why dub has fallen out of favour in Jamaica and you'll get to know more about contemporary dubheads such as Ticklah and Kode 9. Ticklah gives us a demonstration who he works at the mixing board, building a dub. Both parts feature reggae connoisseurs Steve Barrow and David Katz who provide interesting background information and try to put things in a wider perspective.

Finally the DVD provides us with some tasty extra's. Too bad these are without subtitles.

Here are some noteworthy quotes.

Mad Professor: "every object has its shadow, dub is the shadow of the tune"
Mutabaruka: "it's where the engineer becomes the artist"
Stephen DeWaele: there's not a lot of thinking about it, it's just doing it"

Here's the list of the chapters and extras:

All in all we can say that this DVD deserves a lot of attention. It's a well packed documentary about dub music, but also about Jamaica, and the influence, musically speaking, of Jamaica on several musical styles around the world. It's a pity that there's no archive footage out of Jamaica or the UK, nor original music from the producers (King Jammy, Bunny Lee, Perry), but that's something we can live with.
Souljazz has also released a fine double CD companion available separately, containing much of the music from the artists of the DVD. The review of that double CD can be found here.