Tag Archives: Dub

Artist Profiles: Mad Professor

Mad Professor

Mad Professor wears his original nickname earned early in his preteen years due to his intense interest in electronics. Born Neil Fraser in Guyana, he moved to London to live with his father when he was 13 years old.

Simultaneously drawn to electronics and music (primarily reggae), Mad Professor grew up building radios, reverb units, and mixing boards. In his early twenties (1979), he opened a four-track studio from the living room of his South London apartment.

From his humble beginnings, Mad Professor has grown a recording empire, showcasing premier UK performers such as Pato Banton, Maka B, U-Roy, and Sgt. Pepper. Today, his label Ariwa (a Nigerian word for Sound and Communication) is the largest African-owned studio complex in the U.K., boasting effects and analog recording machines that surpass many major Hollywood sound facilities.

Having released numerous number one hits with over 150 different recordings spanning over 2 decades, Ariwa Studios has been the home to some of the finest productions of the era. From there, Mad Professor made an impact on the British reggae scene pushing Dub to new electronic frontiers.

A disciple of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mad Professor was one of the leading producers in dub reggae’s second generation. His legendary Dub Me Crazy albums set the standard for the emerging genre and brought dub into the digital age. Dub Me Crazy releases evolved into a series of 12 albums that showcase Mad Professor?s experimental and inventive electronic creations, relying heavily on the synthesized sound.

In 1984 Lee “Scratch” Perry visited Ariwa studios for the first time, where the ground was laid for the 1989 collaborative release Mystic Warrior, the beginning of Perry’s and Professor’s continuing collaborations. Soon, Mad Professor found himself in high demand in Reggae, Electronic, and Rock circles, leading into collaborations with high profile artists such as The Beastie Boys, Sade, The Orb, Depeche Mode, Jamiroquai, Perry Farrell, Rancid, and The KLF, among others.

In the 90s Mad Professor spearheaded a conscious Afrocentric Black Liberation Dub series, mixing electronics with more organic beats, creating a sound that is both rootsy and revolutionary. His highly successful 1995 release No Protection, a completely reinvented version of trip-hop collective Massive Attack’s second album, established his credentials as a master of Remixes, and ultimately outsold the original release. Mad Professor’s own influence now approaches that of his former mentor as he continues to push forward with new collaborations, tours and releases.

A workaholic of sorts, Mad Professor’s philosophy “More is Better” in life and in sound, stems from his drive to create: “I personally believe that everyday in one’s life one should produce something, one should do something, you know? Anything. Do something!“. This passion also projects as a message in his “mental mood music”, where he is striving to invoke emotion, a spirit you can feel, “meant to go in the mind where words can’t go“.

Discography:

In A Rub A Dub Style (1983)
A Caribbean Taste of Technology (1985)
True Born African Dub (1992)
The Lost Scrolls of Moses (1994)
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Professor
RAS Portraits (1997)
Dubbing You Crazy (2001)
Trix in the Mix (2001)
Method to the Madness (2005)
Dub You Crazy (2007)
The Dubs That Time Forgot (2008)
Audio Illusions of Dub (2009)
The Roots of Dubstep (2012)
Electro Dubclubbing (Ariwa, 2018)

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Deep Dub Intensity of Super Hi-Fi

Super Hi-Fi – Blue and White

Super Hi-Fi – Blue and White (Very Special Records, 2018)
Blue and White is the new album by Super Hi-Fi, a collective of musicians based in Brooklyn who combine a powerful mix of dub reggae with rock, jazz and world music elements. It’s led by bassist and vocalist Ezra Gale.

Super Hi-Fi’s sound is characterized by the use of vibrant bass, dub effects and two dueling trombones that provide captivating interactions. Although Super Hi-Fi was primarily instrumental in previous recordings, band leader Ezra Gale sings on several tracks.

On Blue and White, the band reaches out into multiple genres incorporating fascinating elements such as Afrobeat and a joyful mix of ska and traditional country music featuring steel guitar.
Super Hi-Fi is into analog sound and this recording was recorded completely to tape.

The lineup includes Ezra Gale on bass, vocals, acoustic guitar; Rick Parker on trombone; Jon Lipscomb on guitar; Madhu Siddappa on drums; Alex Asher on trombone; Robert Stringer on trombone; Jeff Lampert on pedal steel guitar; Drew Fleming on vocals; Vincent Giangola on vocals; Erica Rutt Gale on vocals; Mitch Marcus on keyboards; Mamadou Konate on jembe and talking drum; Vera Sousa Marina on vocals; Bryan Benninghove on vocals; and John Blevins on trumpet.

The album is available on vinyl LP, cassette and digital.

Buy Blue and White

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Super Ape Indeed Returns to Conquer

Lee “Scratch” Perry & Subatomic Sound System – Super Ape Returns to Conquer (Subatomic Sound SS 033CD, 2017)

The wizard of dub music, Lee “Scratch” Perry will release Super Ape Returns to Conquer on September 22, 2017. The new album is an explosive mix of percussive roots reggae, masterful dub electronic effects, Ethio brass and the booming bass that is so popular now.

The lineup includesd Lee “Scratch” Perry on vocals, rock stone, thunder claps and ganja pipe; Larry McDonald on percussion and vocals; Troy Shaka Simms on saxophone; Emch on live dub mixing, melodica, guitar, keyboards, samplers, reverbs, vocals and computers; Screechy Dan on vocals; Omar Little on trumpet and cornet; Jahdan Blakkamore on vocals and Ari Up of the Slits on vocals.

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Positive and Uplifting Reggae

Double Tiger – Sharp & Ready

Double Tiger – Sharp & Ready (Easy Star Records, 2017)

New York artist Double Tiger (Jay Spaker) makes appealing modern dub reggae loaded with electronic effects, reverb and pop hooks. On Sharp & Ready he incorporates a mix of Jamaican styles: ska, roots reggae, dub, dancehall and lover’s rock.

Despite the current political situation, Jay Spaker believes that it’s important to make positive and heartening music, bringing joy and inspiration to listeners.

Buy Sharp & Ready

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Reggae Musician Alborosie Releases Freedom and Fyah

Sicilian-born reggae vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Alborosie has a new album titled Freedom and Fyah. Alborosie has spent over a decade living in Jamaica. He presents revolutionary songs with deep, heavy roots rhythms that have become his trademark.

Alborosie has produced a series of bestselling albums since his 2008 debut Soul Pirate.

Freedom and Fyah has a very intense dub influence, with signs of dub-step and electronic music in some of the tracks. Lyrically, he covers topics such as love, revenge, politics and other social commentary.

Buy Freedom and Fyah

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Different Combinations of Latin Spices

I‘ve long asserted that Latin music was the first “world” music to make its way into the mainstream. Arguable though that may be, there’s no doubting the variety of what can rightly be labeled Latin nowadays. Part of the reason for such variety is how the music has evolved; another is recognizing how much variety there was to begin with.

Vintage Latino (Putumayo, 2015) is a various-artists collection that steers clear of overly familiar names (no Tito, Tito or Machito to be found) and earns extra points for featuring some that were around in the early days as well as contemporary musicians keeping the classic sound alive.

So it is that the love songs of old time Cubans like Trio Melodicos and the rural roots of Venezuela’s Simon Diaz fit comfortably alongside contemporary revivers like the utterly charming Las Rubias del Norte from the U.S. and France’s excellent Republique Democratique Du Mambo. And if the best of both worlds is your thing, check the seamlessly splendid combination of Uruguay’s late great Lagrima Rios and acclaimed Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla on the candombe-flavored “Un Cielo Para Los Dos.” Each of the 12 tracks is a gem, so count this one a must.

 

Banda de Los Muertos - Banda de Los Muertos
Banda de Los Muertos – Banda de Los Muertos

 

Should you be craving the sounds of a Brooklyn-based Mexican brass band, that craving will be more than satisfied by Banda de Los Muertos on their self-titled release (Barbes Records, 2015). Founded and led by Oscar Noriega and Jacob Garchik, veterans of jazz and classical music, Banda de Los Muertos’ brass and reeds attack is not just rousingly good fun. It’s also an impressive display of great musicians doing their thing.

 

 

The intertwined trumpets, trombones, alto horn, sousaphone and clarinets (plus a solid backbone of drums) are loaded with traditional Mexican flavors and sport nuances ample enough to appeal to fans of jazz, klezmer and big band music. And no hard feelings if you don’t dig the band’s instrumental cover of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” or the sexy, husky guest vocals by Mireya Ramos, though some serious self-examination might be in order.

 

Empresarios - The Vibes
Empresarios – The Vibes

 

Thoroughly modern but with a clear understanding of age-old grooves, Empresarios out of Washington D.C. give us The Vibes (Empresarios Musica, 2015) a hot mash of cumbia, reggae, dub, house, jazzy experimentation and hip hop. They combine real and programmed rhythms as deftly as they shift from sung to rapped vocals, and their subject matter likewise ranges from self-referencing celebration to social consciousness.

A thinking man’s party band, these guys likely won’t appeal to staunch Latin music purists. For everyone else, they definitely bring it. And the last two tracks (instrumentals “Rootsy Jam” and “Alegria”) are killer.

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