Mad Professor

Evolution of Dub: Black Liberation Dub, Chapter 3

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With the release of Evolution of Dub, Neil "Mad Professor" Fraser's Black Liberation series was quickly eclipsing its predecessor, Dub Me Crazy, for sure consistency and quality. Though it was becoming clear that the new volumes weren't going to be as stylistically adventuresome as the sets of old, for solid, computerized roots, they were hard to beat. Keeping with the loose theme of African elevation, Fraser incorporates speech fragments from controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on a number of the tracks. There's also a smattering of vocal snippets from guests Horace Andy, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Kofi. Despite all this, the underlying rhythms are Evolution of Dub's greatest strength. Ariwa session guitarist Black Steel in particular is given room to shine on excellent cuts like "Harder Than Babylon" and "Cultural Explosion." The latter is a typically full and lively mix with snare shots lashing out and beats bubbling from the depths like primordial lava. "Gringo Dread" sports one of the album's heaviest basslines, leading a pared-down mix that could be described as dub-noir. "Village Gossip" is laced with dissonant, cinematic string scratches, while "Atonement Dub" incorporates the violin on dub's terms to great effect, like some bizarre update on Augustus Pablo's trademark melodica. Surprises may be few, but after the dearth of inspiration behind Dub Me Crazy sets like Hijacked to Jamaica and Dub Maniacs on the Rampage, Fraser's constant attention to detail on Evolution of Dub renders the familiar fresh once again.

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