The fabulously named Umberto Echo spent years producing for other people. His second album, Dub the World, gathers groups and artists from 13 countries. The groundbreaking heyday of old school dub is in the past, but the form has cross-pollinated and mutated into a slew of other genres and sub-types. Dub itself has also persisted and spread geographically. Hence, Sly & Robbie join Poland’s Rastasize for “Day by Day Dub”, which skips quick as a stone across a deep sonic pond. Steel Pulse and Damien Marley team up on the uber-echoed “No More Weapons Dub”. The old rascal Lee Perry teams with Austria’s Dubblestandart on “I Do Voodoo Dub”, and Stereo MCs represent the UK with “City Lights Dub”.
Yet the tracks which come closest to transmitting the desired bemusing sense of disoriented, time-swept otherworldliness of the best dub feature less familiar names. For example, Jiang Liang’s “Ye Gou Shan Dub” chops, twangs, and roars as if Joe Meek and Basil Brush were doing a martial arts test, or playing pong on horseback. Smoke’s “Island Dub” is a ludicrous guitar/horn swanky pants track that swings. Thematically, a little more sauciness would have been welcome, but sonically Echo’s safe hands weave in various effects and gut punches. Maybe Umberto Echo will return with an album where all the tracks are titled after writings by Umberto Eco. But at least every song here ends with the word “dub”. This is as reassuring as old records where every piece is called “[Something] Blues”.