Mad Professor

Who Knows the Secret of the Master Tape?: Dub Me Crazy Pt. 5

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Who Knows the Secret of the Master Tape? collects 12 electro-tinged, reverb-induced reggae instrumentals. While the music of the Mad Professor may embrace more modernized studio technology than dub's pioneers, the results are very much rooted in tradition. The music is conventionally crafted, adequately bass heavy, and embellished with an expert's eye for detail. A byproduct of dub is that the listener is allowed a look at the inner workings of reggae music. Songs are broken down and built up from scratch. Producers embellish musical skeletons with melodic shadows and disorienting studio effects. "Under Surveillance" is ground-zero dub with little more than the music's foundation in place. Snatches of horn lines and bizarre sound effects embellish the bass/drum groove. The rhythm section meshes perfectly on "Banana Republic," establishing a particularly deep syncopation while "Stepping Razor" presents a drum beat tough enough to carry the weight with or without any additional bottom end. The album reaches a highpoint midway through, kicking into a (slightly) higher gear. "Lightning Strike" jogs along over a stiff funk beat. The Professor mixes in enticing snippets from a squeaking sax solo. Unfortunately, it's cut short, abruptly fading out without a logical conclusion. On "Hong Kong Flew," trombone and sax swap lines over a punchy electronic beat. "Ras Mas" is a wonderful, electronically infused Caribbean shuffle given an edge with broken guitar lines protruding through the mix. While not an essential release, Who Knows the Secret is a worthy chapter in the Mad Professor's expansive book of dub.

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