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Mad look at dub history

Mad Professor with special guest Dr. Israel delivers live dub show with spirited vibe



By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Mad Professor

When: Jan. 29 & 30

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: $20

Talking with Neil Fraser, more famously known as the Mad Professor, is like reading a living history of the evolution of dub.

He laughs at the misinformation on the Internet that states Fraser was schooled by Lee “Scratch” Perry.

“I was doing it long before him,” he chuckles warmly. “We’ve worked a lot together.”

Even though the 51-year-old gentleman is a forefather of dub, inspiring generations and genres for years and many more years to come, the humble and charismatic legend didn’t mind taking time out of a rigorous touring schedule to give a history lesson.

Chapter one covered how the music evolved out of ska and reggae in 1960s Jamaica. However, interest shifted to music lovers buying albums for the b-side, where dub song remixes were found. It was Fraser who resurrected the once popular sound, flying it overseas to the United Kingdom in the mid 1970s.

“We saw the whole thing develop and change over past 30 years, the evolution of reggae, and the marriage of reggae and Rasta,” he explains. “Dub is the first form of electronic music. Prior to dub, everything was recorded in neat little boxes. As an engineer, you were not able to have characteristics on a particular recording. The engineer’s job was to make a recording as neat and as orderly as possible, without leaving any hallmark on that recording.”

Fraser instantly made his mark on the industry as both a dub mix master and studio owner. His studio, Ariwa Sounds, now boasts a track record of producing artists such as Sade, The Beastie Boys, Massive Attack and The Orb. He has also produced tracks and mixes for The Boom, Depeche Mode, Rancid and Perry Farrel of Jane’s Addiction. When not producing or touring, Fraser works with major labels such as Sony Music, EMI, Warner Brothers, Capital Record and Virgin Records.

His live dub shows really get to the heart of what first drew him to the genre. And while his fascination with electronics is what prompted his refashioning of a semi-pro reel-to-reel tape recorder in 1975, as the name of his 24-track studio Ariwa suggests — named after the Yoruban word for communication — tuning listeners in to something greater than themselves is what the Guyana native’s music is all about.

“Dub is not a musical speech,” he said. “It’s not a music where you talk to them for hours and give them lots of messages about this or that. Dub is instrumentalization. Its messages are a spiritual vibration. It’s really a different kind of vibe. You can either get it or miss it. It is a more delicate delivery. It’s a spiritual thing. Because yah man, it’s deep inside.”

Mad Professor is promoting his 2007 album Stop You Crazy on his North American tour that touches down in Whistler Monday, Jan. 29 and Tuesday, Jan. 30 at the Garibaldi Lift Company. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Special guest Brooklyn dub master Dr. Israel will open the show with a live cross-genre opening of reggae, dub, jungle, hip hop and rock.

Advance $20 tickets are available at the GLC.