Weekly Retrospective

W- 2020/02/17-23

Mad Professor (Neil Fraser,) head of Ariwa Records

An exercise of style (A “Versus” kind of)

Massive Attack let Mad Professor rework the Bristolians’ material on the consoles of Ariwa studio, the West Norwood (London) complex owned by the dub wizard’s alias of Neil Fraser. It was an extended agreement after being required to add additional production and mix to the ‘Sly‘ single, taken from album “Protection” (Virgin, 1994), concretely for the versions ‘Cosmic Dub‘ and ‘Eternal Feedback Dub.’ Mad Professor didn’t take the assignment regularly and created a new album. Released on February 17, 1995, “No Protection” is mostly a track by a track dub remix of the entire original master. The counterpart, the “versus” of Massive Attack‘s second album.

Massive Attack Vs. Mad Professor: “No protection” (Virgin, 1995)

Under the operating Mad Professor, Massive Attack‘s “Protection,” one of the Bristol Sound‘s defining album, becomes “No Protection.” From the ten original tracks, Guyana-born Fraser chooses eight, leaving ‘Eurochild‘ and the The Door‘s ‘Light My Fire‘ live cover version aside. The recording modifies the originals heavily in an expansive slow mode, where the bass and the beat are recreationally intensified. The whole ting is another album indeed. The hazardous exposure related to the title has no harm in the result.

Mad Professor created another format for the art of mixing beyond the old of the regular version. He installed “the artist vs. the artist” way to recreate a record. “No protection” gives a comparable unit to “Protection” that feedback each other in a separate enriching form. An art act that reflected and opened doors to the way music will evolve from then on, being receptive and reserving space for the influxes, no matter the genre belonging to the creator. Dub permeates the whole electronic music spectrum nowadays. And it was a moving force since the late eighties.

As the mid-’90s run to the end of the decade, entranced in the vibrant boiling rave scene, the British black communities help to establish new electronic genres like Drum’n’bass with its syncopation of fast breakbeats and heavy basslines. Its predecessor, the evolutive Jungle, emerged from the Sound-System culture of DJs and sound engineers working at once in a thrilling succession of samples, loops, synthesized effects under the trembling bass vibe. Trip-hop is a particular variant, the distinctive and British fusion of hip-hop and electronica that, by the time, already has recognition and commercial success. The common is that the influence of dub touches all of them.

Created in the ’60s by Jamaican pioneer producers like OsbourneKing Tubby” Ruddock and Lee ScratchPerry, at the time, the style of dub has a wave of revival due to the new emerging genres. Among others, Mad Professor is one of the producers that had been working on it since the early ’80s. Expansive creativeness is the key to dub. The working dub, using the studio tools and techniques, manipulates and reshapes the recordings to another dimension of time and space. Characterized by giving special treatment to the rhythm section, dub turns a song into an instrumental, removing vocals and adding echoes and reverb effects to an airy flotant expansion. It creates space to rewrite the original; its vocal snippets, as well as parts of other compositions, fuels the progression instead.

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