Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dub innovator The Mad Professor

Are We Mad Yet?
Dub innovator The Mad Professor
Mad Professor & ARIWA Sound System featuring Aisha. 10 pm, Friday 2/3 • WOW Hall, $12

Dub has come to mean some pretty strange and sundry things over the last few years. The music that developed in late '60s Jamaica from remixing singles has become more than its own genre. It has influenced and infiltrated rock, electronica, hip hop, house and a whole heap of other contemporary music. You might think of dub as the conscience and soul of modern electronic music and the Mad Professor is its sole purveyor today, at least among the music's originators.

Born in Guyana, Mad Professor (aka Neil Fraser) became enamored with American soul and Jamaican reggae music, as well as electronic gadgetry, at a young age. When he was 8 years old, Fraser built his first radio from scratch. It was this same love for the music and production behind it that would later possess the Professor to build his own studio (console, board, phaser, mixer and echo/effects machines) in south London in the late '70s, again, by himself. He named the studio ARIWA (Nigerian for sound). Since then, he has recorded hundreds of albums and singles, balancing the roots of traditional dub reggae with his own genius for innovation. Mad Professor's style is heavier, even busier than that of his musical predecessors. If King Tubby and Lee Perry's sound can be compared to Count Basie in its restrained, spare minimalism, then the Mad Professor sound is an elaborate, sometimes even baroque approach, akin to Oscar Peterson or Duke Ellington.

To experience his sound live is the closest many will come to a Jamaican dancehall. Comparable to rave or house music, the Professor's dub is heard and felt, but with a real depth and warmth so absent from other electronic music. Singing over it all on stage will be vocalist The High Priestess Aisha.