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The Science of Sound

Mad Professor
Sonic Palette: The Mad Professor at his mixing board.

Mad Professor and Macka B. play the Edge April 3

By Nicky Baxter

Mix-master/producer Mad Professor and conscious DJ Macka B. represent reggae music's cutting edge. Indeed, Macka B.'s Here Comes Trouble, among other albums, was produced by the Mad one. No surprise there; though not known for his verbal prowess, the Professor is down with the cause.

Mad Professor has been jackin' beats since the early 1980s, when he built his first studio, a four-track job, in the front room of his London home. Today it is the reputed to be the biggest African-owned studio complex in Britain.

What makes Mad Professor's sound so wild, so distinctive, is his preternatural skill at turning computerland into a new frontier where beats, eerie sound effects and other unidentifiable sonic objects whiz around in a vortex of echo, leaving listeners with a spazzy, giddy feeling.

Watching him perform is not unlike observing a painter at work. The Professor's palette is made up of sounds that are almost visual. What's really remarkable is that these lean beats are composed spontaneously, while DJs and singers add their own colors to the mix.

Macka B., also a British-born African, has made it his business to expose white supremacy when and wherever it rears its pale, ugly face. Mixing "culture" (patois for black science) with seismic dance-hall beats and a bit of whimsy, Macka, along with his Professor, represents real rasta music.

The Mad Professor and Macka B. appear April 3 at 9pm at the Edge, 260 California Ave., Palo Alto. Tickets are $9 adv. (415/324-EDGE).

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