Professor launches summer of dance
He's one of the world's leading dub musicians, and Neil Fraser - or Mad Professor, as he's better known - last night chose Nelson as the place to launch his 1998-99 summer of dub tour.
Providing an entree to the Gathering, the English-based Mad Professor was joined by reggae vocalist Earl "16" Daley and various DJs for six hours of dub-based electronic music at the Artery, drawing a close-to-capacity crowd of almost 1000.
Fraser arrived in Nelson on Monday afternoon from the UK and has 20 gigs ahead of him during the next month or so, including gigs in Australia and at the Sweetwaters festival in Auckland at the end of January.
Nelson's sun, warmth and beaches were one attraction for him and his promoters as the place to launch his Australasian summer tour - that and a healthy local enthusiasm for dub, swelled by the numbers of electronic dance music fans arriving in town for the Gathering.
Speaking before last night's gig, Fraser quickly proffered some of his trademark laid-back but most polite attitude, with his observations of Nelson formed from a few hours in town.
"It looks like a nice town... I think I'm going to stay here and get myself a nice Nelson life," he joked.
Soon after his arrival he was walking around town, meeting local people, "tuning into the vibe of the area" so he could plan his performance to suit that vibe.
This is his third visit to New Zealand, but his first to Nelson.
"I like to travel to places, no matter how small," Fraser said in explaining his detour to a provincial New Zealand city. "Each place has got its own magic ...and I'm going to bring some of my own magic."
Dub is deeply rooted in reggae and is based around stripping music down to its rhythm base and rebuilding it using a variety of electronic techniques and effects. But Mad Professor has used his dubbing skills on a wide variety of non-reggae acts, most notably Massive Attack, adding to both his appeal and profile.
While New Zealand might seem a vaguely unlikely place for dub to have a big enough following to attract artists the calibre of Mad Professor, he said he saw nothing unusual in his popularity here.
"If you really get to know dub, you'll find it really thrives in the most unexpected places."
Caption: Photo CLIFF RIORDAN Mad Professor Neil Fraser, left, lays down the beat for Nolan Irie, right, at the Artery last night.