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Echo Park

Mad Professor ~ LIVE ~ Dub Club~ Echo Park

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As hard as it might be to sustain a compelling hip-hop show with 2 MCs and a DJ, we scratched our heads as to how one studio genius would keep his intergalactic rub-a-dub techniques captivating to over 200 stoned gourds at Wednesday night's Dub Club at The Echo. If Mad Professor's deep, dark basslines and skittering, twittering high hats did not occupy one's skanking feet, surely his cool nimbleness in twisting knobs, raising and lowering levels, and keeping the dubscape ever morphing in sound and style could occupy the eyes.

"People think this is a tape...this is live dub. Go to Amoeba Records tomorrow and check for this, you will not find it. You'll have to go to Mars..." boasted Mad Professor, every Jamaican-peppered, British-whipped syllable echoing in 50 directions through the sonic Grand Canyon of his turntables, programmers, and production chambers...

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The sound he speaks of is a dense collage of throbbing bass grooves, fast and faster Reggae drum breakdowns, harmonies that drift in and out of focus, the ghostly impressions of instruments both driving and novel, strange blips, boops, and beeps, and spacey reverb and feedback jams that pin one down to the terra as their minds spin out of the firmament. Drifitng seamlessly from the dark apocalyptic influence of Yabby You to the exploratory deep waters of dub-founder King Tubby, Mad Professor gave nods to these forefathers while also touching lightly on Lover's Rock and visiting raggamuffin DJ chant, along with the serious doses of roots. He also bugged out with creativity, forming a trippy musical bivouac that kept the audience rapt while pushing the envelope of what is possible in a malleable sound.

As backup, the Professor brought along British chantuese Aisha and the mic-busting Dr. Israel, straight from King's County (eruption of gunshot sounds), to weave his aural tapestry around. Each gave spirited performances that added traditional showmanship to the performance of a master who could most likely stand alone.

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If Tubby is dub's Mozart, setting the gold-standard from which to judge all others, and Scientist is perhaps its stripped-down, hook-prone Bach, surely Mad Professor is its Chopin, constantly complex on the surface, confounding listeners and hiding serious beauty under heavy levels of raw emotion. The Prof is due in Poland next month, we'll see how that half-baked comparison plays there.

With danceable elements of light electronica (jungle, two-step, garage, what do you call this shit again?) thrown in on rare occasion, the selector , who could easily be mistaken for DMC in all his Old Skoolness, certainly seemed to take the audience to different planes, those commonly heard on his Ariwa Label. His best work tapped into the dark energy of some of his deeper basslines, with recorded vocals desperately calling out to "Push, Push, Puuuush....Push George Bush, " and ever demonizing the Dragon Tony Blair. Mad Professor also called on all to unify, whether 'black or white,' with no mention or brown or yellow.

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"It was worth it to fly through here despite all the bullshit, Los Angeles. All dem Taliban security looking at me like I'm a terrorist and me don't 'ave sheeit. Seen?!"

Seen.

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