Mad Professor

Dub Maniacs on the Rampage

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Dub Maniacs on the Rampage (part 12 in the Dub Me Crazy series the Mad Professor began in 1982) filters studio-induced roots reggae through early-1990s production technology. Far from being a purist when it comes to sound manipulation, the Professor (aka Neal Fraser) will happily substitute programmed synth beats for live drums and airy keyboard lines for authentic horn parts. But while early releases relinquished little of the music's spirit in the process, on Dub Maniacs the electronics seem so have gotten the best of him. Most of the collection's 13 tracks focus on stripped-down bass and drum structures. All of the dub-defining elements are in place. Brain rattling percussion, reverberating guitar chords, and twisted vocal snatches spring from the sound, multiply, and dissipate into black holes before you can grab hold of them. But these additions feel like they are there because they are supposed to be, not because they add anything essential to the music. They embellish surfaces of tight electronic rhythms that allow little room for the instruments to breath, a problem most noticeable on "Rue Paganini Dub." The song attempts to marry a dubwise melody and bassline to busy dance rhythms. In a genre that relies a great deal on subtlety of timing, such rigid frameworks breed lifelessness. While there are inspired moments on Dub Maniacs, the Mad Professor can rarely sustain the excitement across the length of a composition. Perhaps Fraser realized he needed a new approach. The following year, the producer would abandon the Dub Me Crazy series, launching his new Black Liberation imprint.

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